New Found Glory: 20 Years Of Pop Punk

author PP date 11/10/17

New Found Glory formed twenty years ago as a part of the second wave of pop punk, following in the footsteps of the likes of Green Day, The Offspring, Screeching Weasel, The Queers and other early 90s mainstays that helped popularize the genre. In that space, they have released nine albums at a two to three-year pace and have shown no signs of slowing down.

With genre benchmarks like "Nothing Gold Can Stay", "New Found Glory" and "Sticks & Stones" underneath their belt, the band's arsenal of brilliant songs and albums is nothing short of awe-inspiring. In fact, they're probably the first recommended band for new fans starting to dig a little deeper within the pop punk scene once they've grown tired of the current mainstream names like Sum 41 or Paramore and want to know what the genre is really about, because NFG's approach to pop punk has (almost always) been faithful to the style and, more importantly, consistent throughout the two decades save for the last two records.

But with nine albums underneath your belt, it's getting harder and harder to please especially the older fans since the pressure is mounting to evolve the sound with age to avoid saturation. That has resulted in somewhat disappointing records recently. "Makes Me Sick" earlier this year tried to experiment with the sound but lacked the energy and catchy melodies of their past work, and its predecessor "Resurrection" wasn't really all that memorable. So what better way to give everyone a reminder what the band is all about than to spend the entire year celebrating twenty years of pop punk on tour playing a variety of the first six albums in full in various combinations.

Yours truly has been a fan of the band since "Nothing Gold Can Stay" was released, so naturally, we booked plane tickets immediately following the announcement of three London, UK dates, where the band would play their first six albums in full. They were scheduled as follows:

  • FRIDAY: "Sticks & Stones" and "New Found Glory" at the 2300 capacity O2 Forum
  • SATURDAY: "Not Without A Fight" and "Catalyst" at the 1100 capacity Electric Ballroom
  • SUNDAY: "Nothing Gold Can Stay" and "Coming Home" at the 500 capacity Underworld

Quite an interesting combo of albums and a format that wasn't standard to album shows: not front to back, rather than a mixed, unordered set with a couple of new songs sandwiched in between as well. It's probably done to mask the fact that both "Catalyst" and "Coming Home" aren't particularly strong towards the end of these albums, so this way the band has more control over the encore songs and the flow between faster and slower songs across the nights. Not sure I'm a fan - I would have preferred to hear the records exactly as they were written and released, but this way the biggest hits were always last so it worked out well nevertheless.

The opening duties for each night were honored to the UK based newcomers ROAM, who'd follow through each night playing more or less an identical set given that they only have one full-length and an EP out at this point, but stylistically they were a good fit for the tour. They'll be joining New Found Glory also on the US leg of the same tour. But let's get started with the reviews, shall we?

"STICKS & STONES" & "NEW FOUND GLORY" @ O2 Forum

The first London concert at the 2300 capacity O2 Forum in Kentish Town, just north of Camden Town, isn't really officially the first London concert, considering the band played at the same venue two weeks earlier, just with a different combination of albums: "Sticks & Stones" and "Catalyst". It's the first sold out night out of three, however, so let's get right down to business. For those who haven't been at the venue, it's set like a Victorian-era theater: a large seated balcony, an elevated backside with two (extremely busy) bars, and a lower floor area for the mosh pit and the more intimate experience. The sound is questionable even on a sold out night, and borderline horrific if the venue is only half full, as ROAM witnessed during their set.

ROAM

In terms of scene show, you can't fault anything ROAM is doing. They are all over the place, jumping around energetically and rushing back and forth in the best The Story So Far inspired manner. But a hollow, echoing sound thanks to a half-empty venue at this point does them no favors. Lead singer Alex Costello tries to get a circle pit going for "Deadweight" but there aren't quite enough people to follow his lead, so for "Head Rush" he jumps down to the barrier to sing along with the (surprisingly few) fans up front. It seems as if few have heard of ROAM despite the band making waves on the UK scene for a while now, so Costello asks everyone to go check out their record on sale at the merch booth. The twenty-five minutes of their set pass by quickly with the band throwing everything they've got at the crowd, showcasing a bouncy, summer and high-energy set, but unfortunately a combination of a lack of response, bad sound, and too big of a stage takes the best of them this time around. [6]

New Found Glory: "Sticks & Stones" and "New Found Glory" in full

A good thirty minutes pass by before we're all rick rolled courtesy of New Found Glory's intro song: Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up". And then "Understatement" kicks off the set with a monumental response from the crowd. If this is the kind of sing-along we'll be listening to all night long, we're in for a treat, as there isn't a single soul who isn't singing along. The band races through the next two songs that receive equally loud responses: "Second To Last" and "The Great Houdini". Both of them are delivered much faster than I remember the records being, so the band is really putting on a punk rock show tonight. No secret that it falls right up to this scribe's alley as any longtime reader of this magazine knows.

On stage, the band showcases the kind of energy older fans will remember from the Give It A Name festival days more than ten years ago when the band put up a high-energy set that had the entire audience in awe. Jordan is running all across the scene bouncing from left to right while singing along, pausing from the vocals as often as possible without ruining the flow of the songs, because the crowd is taking care of the lyrics for him anyway. "Better Off Dead", for instance, sounds immense with its lightning speed tempo and the mass sing-along that encompasses the venue: Jordan & co draw from the crowd's passion and display hyperactive movement on stage, taking in every ounce of the experience with huge smiles on their faces. And how could they not? A sold-out venue where the crowd sounds like they know every single lyric to every single song.

"What's up London!? Happy 20 year anniversary", Jordan shouts, clearly out of breath from all that running around. It's the beginning of what turns out to be a very chatty weekend with the band taking often considerable breaks by talking about the years gone by, the songs, and to remind us how thankful they are to have loyal fans that faithfully show up twenty years later to sing along to songs they wrote when they were teenagers. This approach adds a sense of charming down-to-earthiness to the set and makes it a more personal experience than if they just rushed through the songs like some other bands doing the same thing have a tendency to do.

After nine songs of pure sing-along godhood alternating evenly between the two albums, we get the first quiet moment of the night during the new song "Party On Apocalypse". It's funkier style doesn't go down very well with the fans tonight, so as a result there's far less response sing-along wise, proving that the new album just isn't that good in comparison to the other two on display tonight. Consider it to "Forget My Name" just after and there's just no competition. The same goes for "Happy Being Miserable" a little bit later. Decent song but objectively not as good of a song as the rest tonight.

Later, "Dressed To Kill" draws deafening sing-alongs after being dedicated to the old school New Found Glory fans. "Sonny" is dedicated to the Las Vegas mass shooting victims (yours truly stayed in the same hotel at the time of the shooting last week) and to being different, which many fans resonate with. And if you thought the sing-alongs were about to cease or get weaker as the night goes along, no chance of that happening. "Head On Collision" continues down the same path, and "Hit Or Miss" is absolutely monumental. If you don't get back-chills from that session, there's something wrong with you. Fun side note: McFly's Dougie joined on stage to play the song on bass as we're told New Found Glory was one of his favorite bands growing up.

A quick encore and the band are back for three more: "The Ballad For The Lost Romantics", "The Story So Far", and "My Friends Over You". The sound hasn't been good all night with the guitars being almost non-existent in the mix, but as I jot down that observation late during the set, I come to realize it doesn't even matter. The giant sing-alongs, crowd participation and ridiculous energy on stage have covered any such shortcomings more than enough. And so for "My Friends Over You" the stage fills with pre-invited fans who have attended every New Found Glory show on this tour: that's twelve concerts prior to tonight which is damn impressive and helps the song feel like a pop punk communion. What a great show with unforgettable sing-along moments. [9]

Setlist:

  • 1. Understatement
  • 2. Second to Last
  • 3. The Great Houdini
  • 4. Better Off Dead
  • 5. Something I Call Personality
  • 6. Black & Blue
  • 7. Sucker
  • 8. Never Give Up
  • 9. Vegas
  • 10. Party on Apocalypse
  • 11. Forget My Name
  • 12. Sincerely Me
  • 13. All About Her
  • 14. Belated
  • 15. It's Been a Summer
  • 16. Happy Being Miserable
  • 17. Dressed to Kill
  • 18. Singled Out
  • 19. Sonny
  • 20. Boy Crazy
  • 21. Head On Collision
  • 22. Eyesore
  • 23. Hit or Miss
  • --Encore--
  • 24. Ballad for the Lost Romantics
  • 25. The Story So Far
  • 26. My Friends Over You

"CATALYST" & "NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT" @ Electric Ballroom

The second sold-out night is scheduled at the much smaller, 1100 capacity Electric Ballroom right at the heart of the vibrant Camden Town, north London. It was our intention to come early to catch ROAM tonight as well, but the early Saturday start of the show caught us off-guard together with incredibly slow service at a nearby Indian restaurant, so we arrived just as ROAM played the last notes of their set. No review of them tonight, then.

Otherwise, Electric Ballroom is a big rectangular room with a small upstairs section that's pretty much only good for the first row of people peeking over the balcony fence, so most people are at the much bigger downstairs area (compared to Forum). Although acoustics are also not optimal here, they are much better than at Forum so soundwise we're in for a much better session tonight.

New Found Glory: "Catalyst" and "Not Without A Fight" in full

At 8 pm sharp, we're all rick rolled once again by the headliners who start with the same Rick Astley backing track as the night before. Not letting the cliché internet joke affect our mood, we get ready for the heaviest material that New Found Glory has recorded outside of the "Tip Of The Iceberg" EP that shipped with the International Superheroes of Hardcore record back in 2008. What a missed opportunity to contrast the crunchy hardcore-rooted riffs of "Not Without A Fight" against the actual tongue-in-cheek hardcore of ISHC, which, for those not in the know, features the entire New Found Glory lineup just with Jordan Pundik and Chad Gilbert switching roles on vocals and guitar. They would have been the optimal support tonight against the down-tuned riffs of New Found Glory's knee-jerk response to the poppy (and at the time, poorly received) "Coming Home".

Tonight, we kick off with one such track: "Don't Let Her Pull You Down" certainly displays New Found Glory in a different light than the night before. The down-tuned guitars are much heavier and the whole show starts off with a hardcore vibe off the bat. Perhaps that's why the sing-alongs are not quite as impressive tonight from the get-go. It's a bit of a weird contrast considering "Catalyst" has lots of slower and more balladic songs, but despite my initial worry the two seem to go quite well together. "These records are from very different eras of the band so thank you from the bottom of our hearts for singing along to both", the band stops to tell us but with songs like "Failure's Not Flattering" delivering echoing sing-alongs and "Such A Mess" resulting in a vicious mosh pit thanks to its crunchy guitars, its natural both camps are feeling pleased.

"The Sound Of Two Voices" is the first track from the new album, and I have to say the Hawaiian themed song doesn't work any better live than it does on record. It's too odd of a sound for the band and certainly not one that fits in any way with "Catalyst" or "Not Without A Fight" songs. A short misstep aside and a few more chatty moments where Chad Gilbert and Jordan Pundik exchange lighthearted jokes between one another, we get the lightning speed "Truck Stop Blues" off the heavy album that carries a high energy vibe that's perfectly matched by the band's frantic movement on stage. They haven't slowed down from the night before, and if anything, Jordan is even more active on stage than he was before. "No News Is Good News" returns us back to sing along galore, but the theme of tonight, in general, is less sing-alongs, faster songs, and more pits.

"Thanks to all the international people who traveled to the show. It means you didn't just pay for your plane, bus or train ticket, but you paid for food, paid for hotels, and everything else. There are people from South America at this show", Chad tells us, which is rather impressive. It's a perfect example of the kind of appeal album shows have for long-running bands, and more bands should consider doing it. Speaking of dedication, a kid is brought on stage and introduced as him attending his one hundredth New Found Glory show tonight. Apparently, he goes to every single New Found Glory show whenever they are in the UK plus a few international dates. That's ridiculous but admirable dedication. He's offered to sing the final song tonight, "All Downhill From Here", but shies away at last minute and is happy just dancing on stage with the band. It wraps up a set that featured fewer sing-alongs and generally a weaker overall impression, probably because of neither "Catalyst" nor "Not Without A Fight" read among the best New Found Glory albums out there. Then again, what could possibly top the epic sing-along fest from the night before? [7½]

Setlist:

  • 26. Don't Let Her Pull You Down
  • 27. At Least I'm Known for Something
  • 28. Don't Let This Be the End
  • 29. Who Am I
  • 30. Right Where We Left Off
  • 31. Truth of My Youth
  • 32. This Isn't You
  • 33. Doubt Full
  • 34. Tangled Up
  • 35. Failure's Not Flattering
  • 36. Such a Mess
  • 37. I'll Never Love Again
  • 38. Over the Head, Below the Knees
  • 39. The Sound of Two Voices
  • 40. Truck Stop Blues
  • 41. No News Is Good News
  • 42. Heartless at Best
  • 43. 47
  • 44. Your Biggest Mistake
  • 45. This Disaster
  • 46. I'd Kill to Fall Asleep
  • 47. I Don't Wanna Know
  • 48. Listen to Your Friends
  • --Encore--
  • 49. Reasons
  • 50. Ending in Tragedy
  • 51. Intro
  • 52. All Downhill from Here

"NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY" & "COMING HOME" @ Underworld

Night three, and no wonder this one is sold out. Not only is the band playing their seminal debut album that they wrote in high school, "Nothing Gold Can Stay", against their commercial hits off "Coming Home", but the whole shindig takes place at the murky confines of the 500 capacity Underworld. The stage area is so tiny we can barely all fit there, and the scene is definitely the smallest one this band has played for almost two decades. It's also the only time during the UK tour where the band is playing either album, so tonight is extra special for those fans who traveled from afar to attend all three shows this weekend.

Tonight, we arrive early after an excellent Greek meal at a nearby Camden restaurant (you Londoners are so spoiled for your affordable and great food scene with cuisines from all around the world), so we are inside just in time for ROAM's set.

ROAM

Straight away it's abundantly clear that the smaller, basement style shows are where ROAM are at their best. The band looks essentially like a local hardcore band tearing up the stage with crazy circling jumps and constant bouncing on stage, with a far better sound than two nights ago. Their fast-paced pop-hardcore is the perfect kickstarter for a night at Underworld, even though few in the crowd seem to know them in advance, prompting Costello to intervene with "London you can do better than that on a Sunday!. But despite the poorly responding crowd, the band delivers a number of bangers tonight. "Warning Signs" off the "Viewpoint" EP sounds great, and the one-two punch of the sing-along tracks "Deadweight" and "Head Rush" work wonders in the small venue. The latter even incites a small sing-along from a few dedicated fans. On stage, the band's performance is nothing short of passionate and energetic. They are damn near crashing into each other as they tear the stage apart playing their best show yet which surely should rub off onto the crowd and gain them a boatload of new fans. We even get to hear a new track from an upcoming album before the ultra-catchy "Hopeless Choice" closes the set. As I said, ROAM is in their element at smaller shows like these. [7½]

New Found Glory: "Nothing Gold Can Stay" and "Coming Home" in full

Third night, third rick roll. It's getting kind of old, guys, isn't it? "Tonight is the old school", Jordan shouts, before they kick right off with the passionate "Passing Time" that highlights the raw punk rock nature of "Nothing Gold Can Stay" right away. Just like the night before we're in for an interesting contrast with the scratchy, screechy and sloppy high school record vs the much more refined and pop/piano-driven ballad album "Coming Home". Unsurprisingly the fanbase is split into roughly two: the young ones at the front are apparently huge fans of "Coming Home", singing along to every lyric and making a challenge for it possibly being even more popular than "Catalyst" in places, versus the older and more jaded fans at the back who explode into sing-alongs at every chance of "Nothing Gold Can Stay" songs.

The former songs are the clear winner sing along wise, however. "Oxygen" starts out big, but the rhythmic pop of "It's Not Your Fault" is huge. In contrast, "Tell Tale Heart" has a much smaller sing-along. "We chose this venue because it's how we got started, at places like these, so we chose it especially for "Nothing Gold Can Stay" with songs that we haven't played in a while", the band explains their rationale as they touch some of their oldest songs. Later on, we're told how the first album came about: the band saved up $200 each or borrowed from friends and family to record it, and it comes out in the open that Jordan's share actually came from his sister. Apparently, that was never admitted to the rest of the band - or that's how Chad Gilbert makes it sound like at least.

"The Goodbye Song" from the old material has a piano intro, so it fits nicely with the "Coming Home" material despite having a far more melancholic tinge to it. Still, the pattern continues: "Coming Home" has a massive sing along, whereas the one to "3rd And Long" is a little smaller. On the latter, the "I never wanted to avoid your...CONVERSATION" part has an explosive reaction from the crowd, however.

Today's new song is "Call Me Anti-Social", which is one of the better ones of the brand new album, so the reaction is very positive. Come to think about it, the band has cheekily played about half of the new album by choosing different songs from it on different nights.

Back to older material though. "The Blue Stare" sounds fantastic, and "Never Sometimes" is introduced to us as the very first New Found Glory song that back in the day carried the name of the drummer because it didn't have any other lyrics than his name. Funny stuff.

Towards the end of the set, the band focus primarily on "Nothing Gold Can Stay" hits. "You've Got A Friend In Pennsylvania", "Broken Sound" and especially "Hit Or Miss" have insane sing-alongs from the crowd. On stage, the band looks like they're 21 again with everyone showcasing tonnes of energy despite the tiny stage not offering much room to do so. And as an extra special treat, the band play a partial version of "Certain" as the first song on the encore, which is an extra rare song that was only played for the locals but never recorded, yet there is a fan who knows the lyrics to the song which baffles the band on stage. "How do YOU know the lyrics to this song? I don't even remember them myself!", Gilbert proclaims.

Finally, "Boulders" should have been the set closer but the band opts to play "My Friends Over You" for one more time for what is a predictably epic sing along and a mosh pit. Overall, a fantastic experience for the oldest fans even though there was a clear-cut split between fans who knew the first album and those who were here mostly for "Coming Home". [8]

Setlist:

  • 53. Passing Time
  • 54. Oxygen
  • 55. Winter of '95
  • 56. It's Not Your Fault
  • 57. Coming Home
  • 58. Tell Tale Heart
  • 59. Love and Pain
  • 60. The Goodbye Song
  • 61. Connected
  • 62. Call Me Anti-Social
  • 63. Hold My Hand
  • 64. 3rd and Long
  • 65. The Blue Stare
  • 66. Taken Back by You
  • 67. Too Good to Be
  • 68. Never Sometimes
  • 69. On My Mind
  • 70. It Never Snows in Florida
  • 71. When I Die
  • 72. 2's & 3's
  • 73. Familiar Landscapes
  • 74. You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania
  • 75. Broken Sound
  • 76. Hit or Miss
  • --Encore--
  • 77. Certain
  • 78. Make Your Move
  • 79. Boulders
  • 80. My Friends Over You

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen and Lauren Harris.

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXVII Rockfreaks.net.