Due to financial and personal reasons, Bowling For Soup are saying goodbye to UK tours and plan to only return for festival appearances. This led to a brilliant Bid Farewell tour full of personality, fun and great songs.
The band’s trademark less-than-serious punk rock worked perfectly in a packed Hammersmith (now Eventim) Apollo, in what Jaret (lead singer and guitarist) described as one of their biggest headline shows ever.
The standing area was going absolutely crazy for the whole show, with the security at the front having a field day; there were three crowd surfing evictions in just the first two songs. The circle was more subdued, but there was a huge age range up there, which is unsurprising when you consider that the band is 19 and a half years old.
The songs were hit after hit after hit for fans, with the wildest cheers of the night going to fast-paced versions of High School Never Ends and Girl All The Bad Guys Want, the two best sing-along songs.
Early songs Almost and No Hablo Ingles in particular got the crowd going, with Let’s Go To The Pub and Hooray For Beer providing a little theme to introduce the VIPs at a bar to the side of the stage.
Ohio (Come Back To Texas) created associations with the band’s roots that those in London may not otherwise have related with. This song was “hijacked” for the last chorus by support band Patent Pending, who proved over a series of guest appearances that they have great personalities and a fair bit of talent.
Other all-round highlights were the Phineas and Ferb cartoon theme, their cover of Fountains of Wayne’s Stacy’s Mom (because if everyone thinks they did it anyway then they might as well) and Punk Rock 101, the song of clichés that is very cleverly (and catchily) constructed.
An unexpected event of the night was Jaret being joined by People On Vacation bandmate Ryan Hamilton (otherwise of indie rock band Smile Smile) singing their lovely song Prettiest Girl In The World. This was followed by a proposal! Ryan brought his English girlfriend onto stage to “thank” her for everything she’d done throughout the tour, before the big surprise (which wasn’t that surprising as soon as she was on stage). As clichéd as some critics might call this, it was very sweet and left everyone (band and audience alike) with a big smile on their face.
The band were constantly making jokes (often fairly crudely) and engaging with the audience. Their personality made the gig even more of a joy to behold, from guitarist Chris’ odd comments and “tour” around the stage, to the break in Punk Rock 101 for a photo opportunity of the whole band soundtracked by a wonderfully cheesy and purpose-built song.
Jaret’s pronouncement that he understands the grumpy English personality now because he had the “English flu” was hilarious and got everyone on his side, and although his voice was somewhat cracked because of it, it’s punk rock and lots of singers in the genre have that edge to their voices anyway.
The gig finished with an encore comprising Belgium, a romantic crowd-pleaser, a riotous cover of Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time and the band’s classic cover of SR-71’s 1985, although unfortunately the full effect of that one was dampened by the involvement of two teenagers on stage (boooo Max and Otto!)
Overall, Bowling For Soup know how to put on a really great show after so long in the business, and their fans will absolutely attest to that. It’s the UK’s loss that we won’t get a proper tour again, but I’m sure it will mean people flooding to see them at festivals.