It’s been just over a year since McFly stormed this venue on the Keep Calm and Play Louder tour but the excitement in the crowd makes it feel like it’s the first time. Since last April, McFly have called, “Hello world, remember us? We’re still here and better than ever.” Celebrating their 10 year anniversary as a band by releasing a joint autobiography which literally told all and of course, the album which the tour supports, Memory Lane – the intentional greatest hits (as opposed to All The Greatest Hits released in 2007 which the band have openly talked about being opposed to). So if anyone could possible forget these chaps, or just how many hits they’ve had, they have probably woken up to the noise recently.
To really start the celebrations tonight, the camp Mr Antastic introduces himself as host. He makes the venue feel a little more Butlins than the o2 Academy with his awkwardly bad jokes and slapstick comedy, but he’s soon forgotten as he introduces the support for tonight, The Vamps.
To be honest, The Vamps only look about 10 (they’re really cute and it feels wrong in so many ways), but the question about whether they should even still be up this late disappears when they begin to play. There is already a keen following in the crowd who are ready to move on from One Direction to the next big pin up boy band. It looks like they’ve found exactly who they’re looking for. Just like a certain other band we know, The Vamps refreshingly play their own instruments and write their own songs (though they only play two original songs tonight – not that anyone complains during the 1D cover) and just to really follow in the footsteps of the headliners, the band have even written with the mind behind Busted, James Bourne. The original songs that they do play sound very promising and are likely to be picked up as the soundtrack to this summer, with a fresh, acoustic tone behind their songs which makes everyone feel good.
However, sooner than later, The Vamps short set is already over and it’s almost time for McFly to take to the stage. Not before another quick appearance from Mr Antastic though, which is a little disappointing when everyone goes crazy as the lights go out, expecting McFly. After a quick round of trivia it is actually time for Mr Antastic to leave and before McFly come out what seems like their new tradition of warming the crowd up with the YMCA ensures that everyone is really ready for some fun.
McFly walk onto the stage proudly, greeted by deafening screams as everyone in the crowd fumbles for their cameras and phones to capture the moment. They open by showing off their joint vocal ability, perfectly harmonising their way through a mellow intro before they all grin and go straight into That Girl, the perfect golden oldie to kick off tonight’s road down memory lane. Every song is matched with the same deafening noise and rightly so, as tonight shows just how many gems McFly have hidden away.
Highlights of the night include Transylvania (though as usual recently this is cut off before the second verse, leaving us disappointed again at hearing less of Dougie), Five Colours In Her Hair, Lies and One For The Radio (which has everyone with their fists in the air, encouraging the usual arguments with security about those on the balcony standing up). But perhaps the best moments come from the lesser celebrated hits, such as a welcomed appearance of Room on the Third Floor on the set list, as well as a piano rendition of I’ll Be Okay which is incredibly believable and inspiring. The personal highlight, however, has to be the heart wrenching Bubblewrap which shows McFly for exactly what they really are – incredibly talented musicians and song writers. There are few dry eyes left after this performance, but everyone perks up in time for Memory Lane to end the main set perfectly.
If anyone was left unsatisfied in the main set then the encore settles any feelings of discontent. The spotlight focuses on Tom’s infamous ukulele, increasing the crowd’s excitement drastically, before the band return to play Love Is Easy which, if possible, gets an even bigger reaction from the crowd than any before. With this being the most recent song McFly play, it promises more excitement for the future as the band return to their roots musically for their sixth album later this year. After a warming sing a long to All About You, the night is finished with a powerful rendition of The Heart Never Lies, provoking further emotions as Tom sings, “It’s not always easy, but McFly’s here forever”, promising us that 10 years on, this is only the beginning of a new chapter for McFly, and not the end of an era.
Everyone leaves with smiles on their faces, for many this was a first experience of McFly live and they have certainly not been let down. The experience in a smaller venue like this rather than an arena is only amplified and whilst many are sceptical of McFly due to their pop image, the band have proven their rock ability and shown everyone who doubts them that actually, they have it all, and will be selling out tours like this for many for years easily. I know I will always be a fan.