+44

support The Tommys + The Sounds + The Maple State
author DY date 03/02/07 venue Brixton Academy, London, UK

Before even arriving at the venue for the show, I knew that seeing +44 this time around wasn't going to be as good as it was first time round at their one-off show at the London Astoria last September. The main reason for this prediction was because even though this was their very first UK tour, the band was placed in Brixton Academy, which although sold out, was just too big to generate enough energy to make the show what it was in the more intimate, 2000 capacity Astoria.

The Tommys

I arrived at the venue in time to see The Tommys play their set. To be honest, the only band on the bill that really interested me were young up and coming UK outfit The Maple State, who had been given a tremendous opportunity to win over as many of the 4700 strong crowd as they could. Unfortunately though, because I wasn’t travelling from home for this show, I couldn't make it to see them. So the all-girl punk group took to the stage with their rebellious ‘mad at the world' punk songs, all of which sounded pretty much the same; each one as bland as the next.

Maybe it's just me, but sometimes the whole ‘trying hard to be a rock chick' attitude can sometimes be taken a bit too far for my liking, a trap that guitarist and vocalist Stevie Shepperson fell into numerous times during the set. Think of a slightly watered down (and subsequently slightly more respectable) version of Avril Lavigne, that's Stevie. The entire crowd stood pretty much still during their set, except for a small group at front centre, where there always seems to be activity at any gig you go to anyway, regardless of what's coming out of the speakers. So sorry gals, you'll have to try harder (not so hard?) next time to impress me.

5

+44

Moving on, I looked forward to the opportunity to see the always on-form Mr. Hoppus once again. The lights dimmed and the band entered the stage to rampant applause from the eagerly anticipating audience. The band kicked off their set with their debut album's first track, "Lycanthrope", which really got the crowd and band moving alike, with Mark, once again sporting his customary shorts and wacky hair, bouncing all over the stage which a huge smile on his face.

The band continued on to play the next five songs on their record in perfect order, but it was only the awesome "155" that really got a lot of movement from the crowd. For some reason there just seemed to be a distinct lack of energy at the show tonight. I pondered over what this could be accredited to, without much success. Partly, I felt that the sound just didn't wasn't meaty enough; like it didn't have enough substance or like the bass had been turned down, except it hadn't. It was almost like listening to it on a bad pair of headphones. This is no fault of the band however, who displayed plenty of energy as they played through the faster, punkier songs on their album, "When Your Heart Stops Beating". The band themselves generated a lot more energy than that which was coming from the speakers, but unfortunately this was just lost because of the sheer size of the venue.

Mark took a time out to explain to the crowd why there was an unfamiliar face behind the drums, mentioning, "Travis couldn't be here tonight because he's in an MRI machine in the USA". Mark thanked stand-in drummer Gil Sharone from Stolen Babies for filling in for Travis. At the same time, Mark noticed and was very amused by a sign that someone had brought to the show, which read "Mark Hoppus Is A God". He asked for it to be passed to the front so that he could take it home and show it to his wife.

The band's slower, less punchy tracks like "Lillian" and "Weatherman", accompanied by a clever use of lighting, created somewhat more atmosphere than the previous songs had. What's very clear from watching +44 play is that Mark is a hell of a lot better at singing than Tom, but I guess we've always known that, it's just become much clearer post-blink now that Tom has no longer got Mark to support him. Mark, thankfully, has also not lost his sense of humour, pointing out that if there was anyone in the audience who liked "bald, sweaty men", there was one standing to the left of him (pointing at guitarist Shane Gallagher) who was going to start the next song, "No It Isn't".

In a nice turn of events, as soon as this song hit, the energy in the venue rose remarkably, due to it being the most popular and well-recognized song by the band and the fact that there were plenty of people in the venue who obviously wanted to raise the finger to one Tom Delonge. "Cliff Diving" and "Chapter XIII" maintained the energy and really got the crowd moving and the band ended their set with everyone in high spirits.

The band returned after an encore to play a cover of Berlin's song, "The Metro", which I thought was cool because I think if you are going to play an encore you might as well do something different with it. Once the band left the stage, Mark, always the showman remained to thank the crowd, climb on the amps and throw out some guitar picks to the crowd before waving and walking of the stage with the cheekiest grin you'll ever see at a rock concert. So my prediction turned out correct on the most part, +44 gave a great performance tonight, which didn't really fall beneath or exceed my expectations. The lack of energy I think can be blamed on the poor sound at the venue and certainly not on the band who played almost flawlessly and had fun doing so, especially an ever full of life, Mark Hoppus.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Lycanthrope
  • 2. Baby Come On
  • 3. When Your Heart Stops Beating
  • 4. Little Death
  • 5. 155
  • 6. Lillian
  • 7. Make You Smile
  • 8. Interlude
  • 9. Weatherman
  • 10. No It Isn't
  • 11. Cliff Diving
  • 12. Chapter XIII

- Encore

  • 13. The Metro (Berlin cover)

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