Fall Out Boy Headfirst Slide In Stardust At The O2

Fall Out Boy have had their ups and downs, their hits and a hiatus, and emerge with all four members of their line-up that has remained since 2003’s debut LP Take This to Your Grave, firmly still in place. And with somewhat of a renaissance of Emo rock and pop-punk (contemporaries Blink-182 reforming with their original line-up for shows this year and Hayley Williams-led Paramore returning with storming sixth LP This Is Why to name just a couple), the time was more than right for the Wilmette, Illinois-hailing quartet to put out their eighth studio record So Much (for) Stardust and take the show on the road once more.

Fall Out Boy @ The O2

Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy @ The O2 (Kalpesh Patel)
Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy @ The O2 (Kalpesh Patel)

Tonight sees London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena sold out for a second night, the venue selling off even the most restricted-view seats in-line with the stage itself just ahead of the show dates, following a sell-out of the rest of the arena. The floor is packed, with lines for standing tickets forming long before doors open.

  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2

And there’s a good reason. The Patrick Stump-led band are on fire, literally! They bring a set that touches on all of their studio records (bar 2018’s Mania) and the pyrotechnics to match.

As the spoken-word Pink Seashell from the new LP plays out over the PA, the screams from an expectant audience heighten. Ethan Hawke’s voice imbibing his 1994 character Troy Dyer from the indie film classic Reality Bites. And then the theatrics begin, exploding fireworks timed to Andy Hurley’s drum-smashes announcing the arrival of Stardust tune Love From The Other Side.

Those embracing the cold London November find themselves looking to discard layers as the heat is turned up a few notches for 2013 single The Phoenix, the tour’s production team flying fire from both behind and infront of Hurley’s drum riser as well as erupting at regular intervals from Pete Wentz’s bass guitar headstock!

Fall Out Boy @ The O2

Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy @ The O2 (Kalpesh Patel)
Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy @ The O2 (Kalpesh Patel)

The theatrics are put to one side as a curtain falls behind Hurley (the production crew changing up the pyro-theatrics behind the scenes, no doubt), as the group erupt into their first hit single Sugar, We’re Goin Down from 2005’s From Under the Cork Tree. It’s the first true sing-along moment from a night that is filled with them, a joyous chorus ringing out across the North Greenwich arena.

The group go on to mix deeper cuts with hit singles as well as showcasing their latest LP in what becomes a masterclass in audience engagement, some feat for a group with a somewhat reluctant frontman. This is both about them and us, a validation that their new material fits in seamlessly among their 20-year legacy and that their audience, both young and old, are invested in the ride.

Charismatic showman Pete Wentz delivers the theatrics in fine KISS form, while frontman Patrick Stump belts out the tunes while equally hiding shyly under his hat. The group’s biggest hits each deliver a crescendo, Dance, Dance, This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race, Thnks fr th Mmrs, My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up) and the Pulp Fiction-inspired Uma Thurman are all present and accounted for.

And while the always-hatted Patrick Stump isn’t one for the limelight, he does embrace it at times when spurred on by bandmate Wentz. “Me and Patrick have eaten a lot of snacks today” the bassist shares in a moment the two band-leads take to address their audience directly. “We tried a bunch of British snacks today”, Stump adds. “There were a couple of meals in there they tried to pass off as snacks” the frontman continues, chuckles rippling across the audience before Stump declares “that’s the end of the anecdote” in dry style, the two men turning their backs on the crowd and returning to their instruments.

The London audience are specifically catered to tonight with Queen classic Don’t Stop Me Now seeing Stump take centre stage behind grand piano, playing and singing along solo to a backing track of the Queen original. An energetic rendition of Blur hit Song 2 delivered by the whole quartet is thrown in later in the set, the bouncing crowd woo-hooing along at all the right moments.

“Shall we just be done for the evening?” Wentz teases, screams of “noooooooo” reverberating around the arena to which the 44-year-old responds, “shall we play one we’ve never played before?” Screams in the affirmative quickly succeeded by the disco and glam rock-tinged new album track What A Time To Be Alive getting its live debut.

I’d be remiss not to mention the rousing guitar licks and soaring solos provided by Joe Trohamn, punctuating a catalogue of bouncing tunes that it is hard not to beam out from the audience at.

Fall Out Boy @ The O2

Joe Trohman of Fall Out Boy @ The O2 (Kalpesh Patel)
Joe Trohman of Fall Out Boy @ The O2 (Kalpesh Patel)

The familiar pre-recorded acapella overlay from Suzanne Vega’s hit tune Tom’s Diner introduces 2014 hit Centuries before the night is wound up with Take This To Your Grave single Saturday.

While the members of Fall Out Boy themselves are in their late 30s to mid-40s, the energy of their 20-something selves is very much alive and kicking. Tonight’s intergenerational crowd sees today’s Emo teens smiling just as widely as those that caught the band two decades ago on the back of that soaring debut LP.

  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2
  • Fall Out Boy @ The O2

Words and photography of Fall Out Boy @ The O2 Arena, London by Kalpesh Patel on 3rd November 2023.

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