Reel Big Fish
Saturday 24th October
O2 Academy Leeds
I haven’t been to a gig like this in years. The unique aroma of a gig venue – stale beer imbibed with stale sweat – is ever present in O2 Academy Leeds. The clientele we’re mingling with are a refreshing reminder that sub-cultures do still exist, even if they appear to have dwindled in numbers since I used to wear band t-shirts and paint my nails black. Mostly the crowd is of an age with us – fans from the heydays of Reel Big Fish, who have office jobs and possibly mortgages now – although there is a smattering of teenagers too.
The support band, Suburban Legends, bounce on to the stage with unquenchable energy and enthusiasm. The best way to describe them would be McFly meets One Direction meets Reel Big Fish’s little brother.
One of their brass members does things with a trombone I’ve never seen before, and their expertly choreographed dance routines are on a par with Beyonce. A cover of Disney’s Under The Sea has us dancing like idiots. As cheesy American pop-punk as they come, their exuberance and excitement is enough to get the crowd revved up, and we sing along to High Five to All The Guys without a hint of irony.
We sense a subtle change in atmosphere before Reel Big Fish enter. The anticipation mounts, the crowd moves forward, becomes more compact and more attentive. This is my first Reel Big Fish gig, and they do not disappoint.
Perfectly in tune to one another as only an enduring, experienced band can be, they effortlessly reel out old songs and new to the fervour of the crowd. Everyone Else Is An A**hole was a personal favourite of mine, a song demonstrating perfectly that this is a band who don’t take themselves too seriously.
There are moments of perfectly timed, clearly rehearsed stand-up comedy, and an instance where they appear convinced for a moment that they are Nirvana. Every song is welcomed with enthusiasm, but it’s the old favourites, Sell Out, Monkey Man and Beer that win the audience’s biggest cheers and wildest celebrations.
The band may have aged along with its fans, but the music that defines Ska-Punk is as refreshing now as it was when Reel Big Fish first rose to popularity.
Words by Olivia Lazenby
Photos courtesy of Ed Fielding