Date: Wednesday 12th February 2020
Venue: Riverside, Newcastle
Supports: Mannequin Pussy, Spanish Love Songs
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After dropping their latest album ‘Hello Exile’ late on in 2019 it was accompanied by the announcement of a winter tour and with the Manchester date clashing with a prior commitment it meant another trip up north to my new favourite venue in Riverside to see the emo punks of The Menzingers put on what was bound to be another incredible show. Bringing with them Mannequin Pussy and Spanish Love Songs as support meant that even if my ticket wasn’t bought on the headliners alone there was plenty of other reasons to pick one up. The opportunity to see three bands at the top of the game isn’t one to be missed out on.
Unfortunately one of the drawbacks of being slightly further away from the show on a weeknight meant that the 2 hour drive up north after work came at the cost of 99% of Mannequin Pussy’s set. However when I finally arrived it was fantastic to see the venue already packed out and as the band were finishing their last track a thunderous round of applause filled the venue and showed that I had definitely missed out on an incredible opening act. Definitely a band that I’ll be giving a listen to after the show.
Next to take to the stage were Spanish Love Songs and from opening note of ‘Losers’ to closing note of ‘Beer and Nyquil (Hold It Together)’ the band gave a masterclass in emo pop punk and really showed off just why they are the most important up and coming band to keep your eye on. With their debut album ‘Schmaltz’ getting tons of 2019 best album awards I have definitely missed out on a band that I could have been enjoying much earlier but thanks to the release of their new album and this coincidental tour support set this is definitely the time to jump in with both feet. ‘Brave Faces Everyone’ was only released a week ago which meant it was the prime time for new tracks to come out and really show the progression that the band had taken. One such new track was the very catch ‘Kick’ which sounded fantastic and had the crowd singing along. Musically the band were similar to tonight’s headliners but that worked perfectly to match the mood tonight’s show and to see what they’ve achieved in just two albums is wild!! ‘Losers 2’ got some of the biggest cheers from the packed out Riverside crowd and the angry finger pointing was in full effect. The only drawback to take away from the show was that it wasn’t a headline show so the band were limited to a shorter set time to show off their ability to the full extent. As bands go Spanish Love Songs are definitely one that you either love or haven’t heard of yet, I’d definitely recommend them to everyone. In just a short period of time they’ve gone from a band that I hadn’t heard of to one of my favourite artists that are regularly on my playlists. I’m already counting down the days until I can see them play live again.
With their amazing headline performance on the Dickies Stage at Slam Dunk Festival last year and ‘Hello Exile’ just missing out on my top ten albums of 2019 it should come as no surprise to hear that I am quite the fan of The Menzingers. For all those in attendance at the Riverside tonight that aren’t, it doesn’t take long before the crowd are bouncing along to ‘Anna’. Mixing the best of old and new from the very start it’s followed up nice and quickly with the anthemic ‘The Obituaries’. The ear splitting singalong of the final parts of ‘I will fuck this up, I fucking know it’ really showed the sense of community in the crowd and from the energy in the room it was clear that this was the best start to the set that The Menzingers could have asked for.
With tracks from across their last four albums filling tonight’s setlist, the newer tracks from ‘Hello Exile’ fitted into the set nicely to really accent the more well-known tracks from their previous work. Examples of this came with tracks like ‘Thick as Thieves’ leading nicely into ‘High School Friend’ and bringing all the energy and feeling along with it. As the midpoint of the set hit it was clear that there was no slowing down for the band as they launched into the huge ‘Tellin’ Lies’ which caused a sea of movement in the crowd to try and keep up with the sheer energy coming from the stage. One thing that was clear during tonight’s show was just how well put together everything was with both Greg Barnett and Tom May switching up on vocals and putting in solid work. The acoustics of Riverside really helped to create a fantastic soundscape and with the huge beaming smiles of the band coming from the stage it was very obvious that they were enjoying the show just as much as tonight’s crowd.
As The Menzingers worked through the second half of the set things kept running at 110% with the incredible ‘America (You’re freaking me out)’ getting a fantastic reaction before following it up with the timeless ‘I Don’t want to be an asshole anymore’ which had everyone filling the room with “Whoa’s” alongside the chorus to really add to the songs impact. The only slightly lower point of the set came with the band playing a cover of The Clash’s ‘Death or Glory’ which seemed a little out of place in tonight’s list. With such a great back catalogue of tracks they could have definitely put in one of their own more well know tracks. However, putting it down to the fact that I’m not too familiar with the song in question, it was nice to see the band show where they took inspiration from as artists. As the last track of their set rang out this moment was forgotten in an instant. Drawing perfectly on everyone’s fear of getting old, ‘Lookers’ really united the crowd for one last time before the last chord rang out and really showed just how good The Menzingers could sound.
After a short break The Menzingers returned to the stage for two final tracks to really complete the night. First up was ‘In Remission’ which brought back the crowd shouting along from the mosh pit that formed quickly in the front half of the venue. With everyone on their final legs there was just time for the band to end with the cathartic ‘After the Party’ which really sets the mood for the end of the night as the crowd are all leaving. There may be a sadness that everything is very for the night but there is definitely an air of excitement with everyone discussing how good tonight’s show really was. It’s clear to see with the performance tonight that The Menzingers aren’t slowing down with hem showing just how good their new material is tonight and there are definitely tracks on there that will become the classics in no time. Add that to the fantastic performance from tonight’s support bands and it’s no wonder that this show went down so well with the crowd tonight. 2020 may be off to a horrible start but for one evening you can forget about all that and really see that you aren’t alone going through anything. For those that haven’t seen any of tonight’s bands play live yet then I’d highly recommend keeping tabs on them so you can see when they’re next around.