Live Review: The Wonder Years - Rock City, Nottingham 08/07/2017
The Wonder Years have long been a well-known name in the pop-punk scene. Forming in 2005, the band have come on leaps and bounds, bringing us different sounds with every release. Having not released a new album since 2015, with No Closer to Heaven, there hasn’t been many major headline tours in the UK since the promotion of that album. This meant it was a great surprise to see them come to both Nottingham and Kingston for two one-off dates in the UK. What made the announcement even better, was to see a packed line up consisting of The Dirty Nil, Muncie Girls and Beach Slang as support, all of which carry a completely different sound to each other, which brought an exciting evening to Rock City.
The Dirty Nil were first to take centre stage; a three-piece rock band all the way from Canada. The music itself felt very typical rock and roll, and for me, they didn’t bring much of a fresh sound. Despite this, they still put on a good performance and really made use of the space on stage. I always find the first band at any gig has to try harder to engage the crowd, as they’re often lesser known than the other bands, so seeing them have such a strong stage presence was great to see. They spoke with the crowd and had a member of the crowd shouting back to them in conversation, which just showed their ability to interact with an audience. Coming to the end of their set, they played a cover of Surrender by Cheap Trick, which of course the whole crowd knew, and many sung along to.
Shortly after, Muncie Girls took their places, bringing a more political-punk sound to the stage. Never one to shy away from talking about what they believe in, the band touched on issues around feminism, social issues, and the recent election of a tory government, which was really respectable to see. There are many bands that would shy away from talking about such issues, due to the controversy around them, but the whole crowd had their back for every speech they made. They played the usual classic songs such as ‘Comitee’ and ‘Learn in School’ alongside some upcoming releases.
Beach Slang also brought along a punk sound to the stage, but one that completely differed from that of Muncie Girls. They also brought a lot of energy with them, especially from the lead singer who interacted with the crowd really well. He made lots of jokes with the crowd, as well as creating more intimate moments as he spoke about the patch on his jacket which read ‘Nobody’s Nothing.’ Also including a cover within their set, they knew how to get the crowd going, and helped to set the tone for what was soon to come from The Wonder Years.
What was great about The Wonder Years is that they didn’t have any album to promote as it’s been so long since their last release. This meant they played a huge selection of songs, old and new. They even held a poll online in which the audience could vote for what songs they wanted on the set list, which meant we even got to see them play Logan Circle, released 7 years ago! They also played more recent songs, as well as a reasonable amount of tracks from The Greatest Generation, which seemed to be the most popular amongst the crowd. They packed every song full of emotion, which made Rock City main room, feel more like the intimate Rock City basement. What I’ve always loved about The Wonder Years, is that they talk about some really deep issues, including those surrounding mental health. This allows them to have a deep connection with the audience, and the passion people had for the music was clear as everyone sung every word back to the band.
The Wonder Years really put their all into the performance, and was one not to be missed, as they’re now working on a new release, which may mean upcoming gigs won’t have such a variety of tracks.
Photography and Review by Hayley Fearnley