As the chilly London nights draw in, what better way to warm both body and soul than a punk-themed night on the Fireball – Fuelling The Fire tour?
Shepherd’s Bush Empire played host to the first night of this ten-date British tour. The Fireball-branded drum kit and equipment on stage, plus the free promotional drinks and t-shirts being handed out to the crowd at various intervals were spirited reminders of the theme of the evening.
Lost In Stereo, from Glasgow, were winners of Fireball’s Hottest Band Competition last year, and were back with a place on the touring roster for this year. The fresh-faced pop punks played a confident and tight set spanning their fledgling repertoire. Tear The Pages from their latest EP sat alongside the “first song we wrote” in one of the band member’s bedroom, called The Butterfly Effect. Clearly delighted to be on the bill, they ended with a Christmas song, which (bar The Vandals and their penchant for Christmas albums) seemed to stretch the punk ethos a little, but ’tis the season to be jolly and they certainly were.
Californian’s Face to Face followed, with the crowd swelling and the venue filling up. Frontman Trever Keith joked how it must be “a shock” to have watched a band of 20 year olds and then see four 50 year olds walk on stage. Age is but a number though, and the heavier edge, and faster, more driving rhythms were a hit with the crowd.
Tracks from recent album, Protection, sat alongside memorable older songs such as All For Nothing.
The arrival of The Bronx took the whole evening up several notches. The LA-based punk rockers threw themselves into their set with maximum power. Still riding high on their outstanding fifth album, The Bronx V, they tore through a setlist that was even-handedly drawn from across their career, with old favourites including Heart Attack American as enthusiastically received by the crowd as new songs such as Two Birds.
Vocalist Matt Caughthran proved himself to be one of the most energetic and interesting punk rock performers around at the moment, with exceptional command of the crowd.
His invitation for people to get on the stage during White Guilt was met with a sudden rush of crowd-surfing, defiantly fought off by a row of security guards. In the seasonal spirit of giving and receiving, he descended into the crowd himself – during the classic Knifeman. “The dancefloor is for dancing!” he exclaimed before spending the best part of two songs no longer visible, belting out the lyrics while consumed in a frenzied mosh pit.
The Bronx continued to exude humour and charm off stage, when Rockshot shared a few minutes with them over a shot of Fireball.
Back in the spotlight, the night had certainly hit its stride by the time headliners Flogging Molly strode on stage.
The Celtic-punk stalwarts ran through a solid and energetic set, taking the edge off the more hardcore feel the night had veered into.
The seven-strong band add violin, accordion and banjo to the traditional punk roll call of guitar, bass and drums featured in the previous acts. With a career spanning around two decades, they enjoy a loyal following and the status to headline such a diverse range of bands.
With a huge banner behind them proclaiming Life is Good (their most recent album title), the upbeat feel of the music and the enthusiastic response of the crowd was pleasantly heart-warming.
The proper jig-hoedown style action in the pit really took off from the jaunty The Likes of You Again onwards, and the upstairs seated audience were on their feet and clapping from early on. A sense of real camaraderie amongst the band members boosted the strength of the show.
The tour brought a good mix of bands with enough firepower to exhilarate and exhaust the audience by the end of the night. We’ll be curious to see who gets on board the Fireball tour next year…
The Fireball – Fuelling The Fire tour runs until 14 December. Live Review by Imelda Michalczyk and Photography by Marc Broussely on Sunday 2nd December at Shepherd’s Bush Empire.