I’ve been a fan of McFly since the very beginning, and I’m not ashamed to admit it (although people seem to think I should be). I’ve managed to catch every tour they’ve done (the early ones mostly thanks to my parents for driving me places since I live on a silly island!) and they genuinely just get better and better live every single time. So by looking at their recent Leeds gig (1st May 2013, O2 Academy), I will try and justify why.
Firstly, The Vamps are possibly the best support act they’ve ever had (since V at least, the boy band who supported them on their first tour and whose member Ant is compering this tour). Sounding remarkably like a young McFly and with at least half the band looking oddly like members of One Direction, the only problem was that their set was much too short at only four songs. With two covers, Teenage Kicks, Cecilia (a great singalong) and Little Things (a brilliant reworking), and original Wild Heart, they had the perfect mix of acoustic and guitar-led pop. Recently signed by EMI, I will be very happy to hear from these guys again.
The aforementioned Ant (or Mr Antastic) was wonderfully cheesy with some hit and miss jokes and dance moves, but he has a certain charm and definitely got the crowd going. He even returned to join in with backing vocals/dancing during McFly’s mash up later on. The YMCA led into McFly, an almost traditional part of a McFly gig by now, and Mr Antastic led us in the first half of the song which was good fun (but who knew it had so many verses?! Maybe it just seems like more when you’re waiting for McFly…)
Danny, Tom and Dougie came out to the stage with the red curtain still hanging down behind them (and Harry and his drum kit behind that) to sing a slow and very harmonically beautiful version of the ‘so much has changed’ refrain from ‘Memory Lane’ before the red curtain fell down and they launched into ‘That Girl’, an old favourite with an up tempo start and the first of the night’s impeccable guitar solos.
Something awesome about this tour that they’ve dabbled in before but never quite so prominently was the pair of brass players, a trumpeter and a saxophonist, who had joint solo moments in both ‘Star Girl’ and ‘Lies’ as well as a killer sax solo in ‘Room on the Third Floor’ which gave the normally fairly tame song an extra edge, and various other moments in which the brass added something extra to the band’s sound. Their regular keyboardist also switched between piano and synthesiser which always sounds cool!
There was a moment in the middle of the set when everyone left the stage except Tom and Danny, with the former moving over to the piano, and they sung a beautiful slowed down version of ‘I’ll be Ok’ before moving onto ‘Bubblewrap’, when everyone else sneaked back to join in around the second verse. This was a wonderfully chilled out but poignant moment, especially as there are some really touching lyrics in those songs, and Tom and Danny’s vocals and sparse arrangement really did them justice.
Other personal highlights were ‘Falling In Love’, ‘Corrupted’ and ‘Nowhere Left to Run’ as three songs that, to me, typify what McFly do best: a fun, catchy song with relatable lyrics and a good bounce to them which makes live gigs all the more fun. I feel bad narrowing them down though, as I could also name songs such as ‘One For The Radio’, which always ties everyone together, and ‘Lies’, a sing along favourite.
Possibly my all-time favourite McFly song is ‘Smile’, with its feel good message and old-fashioned rhythms, and I’m glad it’s finally getting the live time it deserves. The intro was drawn out- meaning more brass and Tom leading the way- before we got the awesome song, and then it was Danny’s moment to take the helm, as his drop down microphone appeared, every band member received a Village People hat and the song turned into a rocking medley of ‘It’s Alright’, ‘YMCA’ and ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’. Great fun.
After Dougie “ruined” the idea of the encore and we heard a full version of ‘Memory Lane’ before the blackout, their return featured ‘Love Is Easy’, ‘All About You’ and ‘The Heart Never Lies’, three fairly laid back songs but all ones that are massive with the fans- the pink ukelele is a big draw for the former and the altered lyrics ‘another year’s over, but we’re still together/ It’s not always easy but McFly’s here forever’ of the latter- and so the gig ended on a high.
A few years ago, when I was still at school, everyone liked to laugh at the fact that I was such a big McFly fan but then the band came to play the Big Top at the Isle of Wight festival. Since it’s so accessible to us islanders lots of people I know went, so come Monday at school I had dozens of people telling me that they’d caught McFly at the weekend and were really impressed at how good they were live. They were respected a lot more in my school after that. I wish it were so easy for everyone to get that message, but never mind because I will always enjoy seeing them and that’s all that matters!