New Politics of Copenhagen, Denmark open the show, performing to an arena that isn’t even half full. Despite this, introducing themselves with a succession of hand claps, none of which were repeated or joined in with by the eager few hundred on the floor before them, the trio do their best to be as energetic and as entertaining as they could. With their album due for an imminent release, the short set, receives at most, a lukewarm reception, with ‘Just Like Me’ proving to be a highlight. The sight of seeing vocalist David Boyd perform a breakdancing routine half way through is random and completely unnecessary; a pointless exercise perhaps designed to pass some time.
Taylor Momsen, eager and excited about the band’s album release today, stands centre stage as an array of white lights flash brightly enough to make her audience see spots. The Pretty Reckless, launching into ‘Follow Me Down’ instigate a hand clap and the venue, which with every minute that passes is slowly reaching capacity, echoes with the responses of the crowd. The stage lighting makes it hard for anyone at a distance to capture a suitable photo of Taylor, her blonde hair often hiding much of her face but as the set continues, fan favourite ‘Make Me Wanna Die’ has the masses abandoning their cameras and phones to, metaphorically at least, lose their minds. On the downside, the blackouts at the end of each song, combined with Taylor starting almost every sentence she speaks with the word ‘Manchester’ – as if the thousands before her didn’t know where they were already – are just irritating, and as good as their performance is, it can’t be said that it’s great.
By the time Fall Out Boy, riding a wave of almost unparalleled success since their return little over a year ago, take to the stage, less than 50 seats remain unoccupied and the floor is a sea of bodies, inching their way as close to the front as they can. Wearing masks through opening number ‘The Phoenix’, the masses before them, many of whom grew up listening to the band a decade ago, are instantly transported back to their teenage years, while older members of the audience cannot help but join in the throng of people jumping, cheering and clapping beside them. A power problem after the third song would probably have most bands in an absolute panic – but not these guys. Instead, as technicians work quickly to rectify the situation, Pete snaps a photo on his phone while Patrick sits centre stage and pretends to strum on his guitar.
With power restored, ‘This Ain’t A Scene’ sees thousands upon thousands of people throwing their arms back and forth as they sing along with the chorus, and a Mexican wave soon after has every seated attendee on their feet. Perhaps taking a leaf out of the 30 Seconds To Mars playbook, a number of black balloons appear above the heads of those on the floor, being pushed and punched their way around the vast space. They are a little irritating, but as a number are soon popped and discarded, no one seems particularly bothered by them.
A short acoustic set, performed towards the back of the venue, provides everyone with their first and only real opportunity to get their breath back and, after Patrick declares ‘This feels like we’re on a camp-out’, ‘Grand Theft Auto/Where Is Your Boy’ is lapped up, cameras and phones held aloft to record it.
Back on the main stage mere minutes later and with the show drawing to an end, at the request of the band, the lights are dimmed, camera phones are held up high and the arena is transformed into a glittering sea of white and silver for ‘Just One Yesterday’. Prior to a break in the set, thousands of arms are then thrust back and forward once again, voices reverberating everywhere as ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’ plays out.
A few minutes later, Patrick, now lit under a spotlight at the top of the staging area, plays the keys as an introduction to final three numbers in the set. ‘Save Rock ‘n’ Roll’ sees a montage of famous faces including Kurt Cobain and Michael Jackson being displayed on the big screen, while post the now regular band Twitter pic taken from the stage, ‘Thanks For The Mmrs’ is the true final chance for everyone present to completely let themselves go, which they do, arms everywhere, groups of individuals lifting one another onto their shoulders.
Despite the likelihood of leaving thousands with repetitive strain injury to their arms, the band exit the stage to rapturous cheers and applause while the thoroughly entertained crowd before them linger within the arena, longing to hold on to the visions and memories of tonight for as long as they can.