On the eve of the first anniversary of their third album Legendary, The Summer Set are at Newcastle’s O2 Academy 2 to play to a small room cram packed with adoring fans on their Legendary UK tour.
First things first though, newcomers to the UK, Paradise Fears take the stage. After being held up in the US whilst this isn’t the first night of tour for everyone else it is for them which also makes this Newcastle show the first ever show Paradise Fears have played overseas.
It would be forgivable and expected if the first, small support band on a modest pop-punk tour like this wasn’t up to scratch or could do with improvement, especially on their first tour outside of America, but Paradise Fears are a breath of fresh air and they need none of the sympathetic leniency people might give to an opening band. Their mix of rap and pop-rock melodies leaves everyone impressed, it’s like someone has mashed up Twenty One Pilots and tonight’s headliners The Summer Set together and has been somehow left with something heart-warming yet just so cool. The band already have a few encouraging fans who help ease their nerves by singing every word back to them but by the end of the set they certainly have more than just a handful of fans, more like a whole room of converted fans.
Next up is former The Academy Is… front-man, William Beckett. Whilst most of the fans here were probably in primary school when TAI… broke up, a few older fans have turned up just to see Beckett’s set and whilst he shows his appreciation he notes that “tonight is about celebrating new things” dashing hopes that one TAI… cover might sneak into his setlist.
Arguably the most experienced of the musicians onstage tonight, Beckett manages to overcome his stammer and creates a friendly atmosphere with the crowd whilst keeping them in his command. After one song he decides he wants his “big intro” that bands get and he leaves the stage to come back on to an altered version of Eminem’s My Name Is which gets everyone laughing. His stripped back, acoustic songs give everyone a chance to re-energise before The Summer Set and he plays flawlessly. His voice is just as unique and easy to listen to as on CD and it has to be said that Beckett out performs everyone else tonight. The highlight of his set being a new song he wrote about his childhood for his sister who he calls his best friend which Brian Dales of The Summer Set joined him for with beautiful harmonies and touching, inspiring lyrics.
Lastly, The Summer Set take to the stage which they have called their own many times. Whilst the support acts received better than usual reception there is no mistaking whose show this is and front-man Brian Dales makes sure to milk that. The set contains a mix of songs from all three albums, though, due to the title of the tour, most recent album Legendary is most present and the songs off this album receive the biggest reception, showing that the fans think the band are evolving in the right way. Mostly, though, the songs off the band’s debut A Love Like This are best live, reminiscent of a day when The Summer Set lived up to their pop-punk label (the pop part only really ringing true now). That’s not to say that songs like F**k U Over and Boomerang aren’t just as fun and catchy, just that songs like these aren’t as common in the newer sound the band have developed.
The acoustic section we’ve come to expect from headlining bands doesn’t disappoint either, showing off the skills of lead guitarist John Gomez not only on his acoustic guitar but also vocally, backing up Dales perfectly. Whilst applauding band members here, it should be noted that drummer Jess Bowen plays the whole set whilst, quote, “sick as a dog” and still manages to kill it with impromptu drum fills, never missing a beat in the punchy set.
The best performance the band give tonight is easily the tour’s namesake Legendary though, beginning stripped back with on point harmonies and progressing to a full band pop classic that The Summer Set have become known for.
They managed to fill and impress Academy 2 tonight and even though the support was more impressive overall, the constant adoring support from their fans suggests it won’t be long until The Summer Set bag themselves a headline slot in the much bigger room downstairs.