Time to bring out those chequered-slacks again, as the kings of ska, Reel Big Fish, are back in the UK! Faye was lucky enough to catch the sold-out Newcastle show.
The night started off with Random Hand, who, within the past year, have supported other ska heavyweights, such as: Big D and The Kids Table and Streetlight Manifesto, during their UK tours. They may appear to be the Furthest Drives Home-dial-a-support band of the ska world, but, hey, I’m not complaining, at least they have talent and bring something different to the table.
The 4-piece from West Yorkshire got the crowd skanking and clapping-along with their unique fusion of punk, ska, hip-hop, dub, metal, and reggae. Which, on paper, probably looks like a God-awful concoction, but they make it work. In fact, live, they make it work very well, combined with their politically-charged lyrics, energetically-engaging live performance, and an endearingly down-to-earth front man, which left the crowd content and salivating for the rest of their portions of ska lying ahead.
The crowd’s hunger pangs were filled with the ever-so flamboyant Suburban Legends, hailing from Orange County, California. The sextet began their set with an N*Sync-style dance routine, leaving the crowd, clearly unfamiliar with Suburban Legends, bemused and in awe. Well, to put it frank, everyone was thinking, “What the fuck?” while simultaneously finding this, essentially, ska boy band humorously entertaining. Impressive synchronised dance moves were continued throughout by horn players, Brian Robertson and Luis Beza, and charismatic front man, Vincent Walker.
A solid 8-song set, which featured a satisfying selection of old favourites from Rump Shaker, such as You and Bright Spring Morning, combined with new tunes, such as Girls Got What I Want, as well as more from in between, which, I’m sure, would please any long-term Legends fan.
The self-proclaimed “best cover band ever”, who, in 2001, famously played nearly 1000 shows at Disneyland went back to their Mickey Mouse-roots, with a performance of The Little Mermaid’s Under The Sea, which easily gave them the best reaction of their set and put a smile on the faces of everyone in attendance.
Judging by the crowd’s positive reaction, on a whole, it is safe to safe, that with their overtly flashy performance and perfected crowd interaction, Suburban Legends definitely won over the people of Newcastle.
The main course, of Reel Big Fish, was finally served up, a band that had also sold out the same venue just 366-days ago.
The twenty-one-song party began with the words, “Everybody’s doing the fish, yeah, yeah. Everybody’s doing the fish…”, rolling off the tip of everyone’s tongues, during the Reel Big Fish classic, Trendy, a perfect way to start.
The angst-ridden Another F.U. Song swiftly followed, with the two-thousand strong in attendance joyfully cursing along to this one-minute, profanity-induced (45 “fucks”, by my count) ditty. 2000 x 45, that’s a lot of ‘fucks’. Fuck.
While fittingly gulping down a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, front man, Aaron Barrett claimed that the next song would be made up on the spot, with, guitarist, Scott ‘Scotty’ Klopfenstein taking lead vocals. Comically, the ‘made-up’ song, was musically and lyrically identical to Metallica’s Enter Sandman.
A fairly typical and predictable set, in all, with obligatory RBF songs, such as: She Has A Girlfriend Now, Don’t Start A Band, Beer, and more were performed, which had the crowd singing at the top of their lungs, but let’s face it, I don’t think it would be a RBF show without them and they certainly don’t get old.
The crowd were understandably less familiar with Veronica Sawyer and Authority Song, from Reel Big Fish’s newly released cover album Fame, Fortune, and Fornication, which the tour is in support of.
In an odd fashion, Brian Klemm, guitarist of Suburban Legends, took to the stage again to replace Barrett on lead guitar, allowing Barrett to freely roam around, giving a hearty performance, of the bitter Where Have You Been?.
The crowd craved seconds, after RBF went off stage following Beer, but shortly returned due to overwhelming chants of “Reel Big Fish!” and “We want more!” The four-song encore which featured Everything Sucks, DJ Boss, and, of course, the band’s most known-for song, the 1997 mainstream hit, Sell Out. The party came to an end with their famous cover of Take On Me, which had everyone (security men included) jubilantly singing and sweatily-skanking along to.
Overall, a fun night was had and everyone got their money’s worth, which you can almost guarantee at any Reel Big Fish show, with all three bands at the top of their game. I’m sure that all those at Newcastle Academy on February 16th 2009 would undoubtedly agree that this show proved that ska is definitely not dead.
Make sure you don’t miss out on this tour, there’s still a few dates remaining:
24th Feb – Solus, Cardiff, Wales
25th Feb – Guildhall, Southhampton
26th Feb – Roadmender, Northampton
27th Feb – Forum, London