Live Review: Fall Out Boy at London Wembley Arena – 20th March 2014

By on Monday, 24th March 2014 at 2:00 pm

“Put on your war paint!” is the rallying call from the rejuvenated Patrick Stump as he bursts onto the stage to the operatic overture of ‘The Phoenix’, inviting a skirmish on the floor of Wembley Arena. And a battle Fall Out Boy did indeed incite: the battle between the post-hiatus and the pre-hiatus. No blood was spilt though (that I’m aware of, as I was in the rather soulless, seated area).

Now as openers go, ‘The Phoenix’ worked incredibly well whipping the masses of pre-pubescent girls and their Dads/chaperones into a living breathing body, swaying back and forth like the tide. Immediately, it was obvious that the fans that piled into the Wembley Arena for the evening’s frivolities had been captivated by FOB’s most recent post-hiatus record; the cheekily titled ‘Save Rock and Roll’. This new audience’s first taste of the Illinois foursome was ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’ – this was among the songs that FOB’s newly captured audience held dearest. Meanwhile, the old schoolers (present company included), those who were brought up on a strict diet of ‘Take This To Your Grave’ with morsels of ‘From Under The Cork Tree’ and ‘Infinity On High’, were awaiting live staples like ‘Saturday’.

Now it’s the reaction to the set closer ‘Saturday’ that probably epitomised the post- vs. pre-feeling of the gig more than anything. The song that FOB have run out on each and every tour since their inception in 2005 is normally greeted with hysteria, screams and the wetting of pants from the more incontinently excitable among the crowd. As FOB closed out their arena sized big day out with the track, punters meandered to the exits, ignoring the pained screams of Messrs. Wentz and Stump. I expected the kind of mass hysteria tracks from ‘Save Rock and Roll’ were greeted with, not the rather upsetting displays of mass indifference songs from the band’s early back catalogue were instead greeted by.

But with the brief hiatus starving people of FOB-y goodness for a few years, a new audience have been introduced to the band, superseding the old guard, and is that a bad thing? Abso-friggin-lutely not. And the victor between the pre and the post? Neither. While there was a division at the gig, the two factions were joined in unison to anthems like ‘Sugar We’re Going Down’ and ‘Dance, Dance’. The difference was most apparent as the younger amongst the crowd were more inclined to lose their shit to the band’s Foxes’ collaboration than ‘Thriller’.

From the moment the four-piece arrived on stage, shrouded behind their balaclavas (I don’t get it, probably something to do with Courtney Love, mind), the energy was palpable and the set was peppered with a deliciously hook laden selection of songs. One after the other, 16 singalong anthems performed with boundless enthusiasm – the kind of enthusiasm, it seems, you need a small break hiatus to incite.

The break, whilst being a bit sad for an 18-year old John Fernandez, has obviously reinvigorated the band; and it’s obvious from the evening’s set whom has benefited the most from the time alone to ‘reflect’: Patrick Stump. Stump is now cutting his cloth as a bit of skinny, hip-thrusting heartthrob, and from Thursday’s showing, he has all the makings of a legendary frontman.

He has the stance, the outfits, the pipes and most notably the swagger. All night, when he was able to shrug off guitar duties, he strutted around Wembley’s stage like he bloody owned it. Now whilst Pete Wentz may be the poster boy of the band, Fall Out Boy 2.0 is most definitely a beast of Patrick Stump’s creation. Sure, the piano faux-impersonation of Elton John on the aural atrocity that is ‘Save Rock and Roll’ was a low point. But throughout the evening, the energy was palpable, and as frontmen go, Stump is the trailblazer for 2014.

The mid-show mini-set by Patrick, Pete and Joe Trohman was a very Coldplay-ey stadium touch, as seeing the band get ‘Serendipitous’ as hordes of teenage girls screeched aloud was testament to. While it was an interesting change of pace, songs like ‘Grand Theft Autumn’ are made for the electrical treatment and the thudding Wentz bass lines, whilst contrastingly ‘I’m Like A Lawyer’, worked brilliantly as a stripped down number. Put that one in ‘the needs work pile’, boys.

Even with the interlude slowing proceedings down, the highlight of the show ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’ brought the hysteria back. As a single, on record I thought it was questionable. But undoubtedly after seeing it live for the second time, it’s obvious the song was made for the live arena. From the stage Stump conducted masterfully as tens of thousands of fans joined in unison a chorus of ‘LIGHT ‘EM OP OOP OOOOP’. The show was indisputably a triumph for the band showcasing a dramatic growth in their live sets. There were very few frills and the music – as it should – did the talking for the band.

Now as I was walking to the gig from a delicious Nando’s (other chicken is available and is also delicious), my company for the evening asked me where we were going. As she assumed it was a gig in Wembley Stadium, not the arena. Before the gig, the thought of FOB headlining the stadium seemed a bit laughable to me. Post-show though, it’s not the most bizarre of thoughts that they could be gracing the stage there in the next decade. Maybe then they’ll need some of the bells and whistles (the frills they did without) to go with it? Perhaps when they order the audience to “Put on their war paint!” Stump and Wentz will charge on to the stage with giant paint guns, Billie Joe style?

Stranger things… But for now, Fall Out Boy 2.0 are quite content with letting the tunes alone ‘Light ‘Em Up’.

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