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Reel big fish – Forum, London – 16th October 2017

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Tonight was the first of two London shows as part of the Fireball tour. Sponsored by Fireball, they had people handing out free shots to the audience, which certainly went down well – free booze vs O2 academy bar prices is always a winner.

It’s a packed bill with 5 bands – 4 who are doing the whole tour plus a local opening act, hence the foors opened at 6pm rather then 7pm and the opening act took to the stage at the ridiculously early time of 6.15pm.

River jumpers opened the night just 15 minutes after doors opened so it’s no surprise that the venue was fairly empty still although it did fill up steadily during their set. With so few people it’s hard to get a good atmosphere going but the band do their best and put in a good set.

By the time Sweet little machine came on, the crowd had grown to a decent size. Sweet little machine are a pop-punk band who put in a very energetic show as they raced around the stage and leaped into the air. It’s a good catchy set that goes down well with the crowd.

Mad caddies were up next. The brass section was a giveaway that we were in for some ska and that’s what they gave us, blended with some punk to give it a harder edge. They’re an amazingly fun band – and an obvious choice for a bill headlined by Reel big fish, and you couldn’t help but enjoy their performance. It’s great catchy music and the confetti cannons at the end of the set just seemed a natural conclusion.

Anti flag were the heaviest band of the night – there’s no pop-punk or ska-punk here, just good old fashioned punk. They clearly had plenty of fans here tonight – aside from the various T-shirts I’d seen, the giant circle pit that took up most of the floor area was a bit of a giveaway. It’s not just the music that makes them punk though – they’ve got the angry punk attitude too and took time between songs to denounce the alt-right. A Clash cover (Should I stay or should I go) went down well as did their own material. One surprise was having the brass section of Reel Big Fish joining them on stage for one song which sounded great. For the final song they got the crowd to clear a space so two of the band members could get in the crowd and play and sing. While that was going on, the crowd was showered with confetti which seemed slightly at odds with the music, but it was a great finale. A fantastic set.

Reel big fish were the final act of the night. I’d previously only seen them during a set at Sonisphere in 2014 when technical problems marred the set and while they’d seemed ok they hadn’t blown me away. Tonight though was very different – no technical problems and a much better atmosphere plus the band in great form meant this was a very impressive set. Their ska-punk sound really is catchy with a real fun feel to it, and with the crowd tonight in the mood to party then they go down a storm. An absolutely fantastic end to a great night.

It’s rare for a bill with so many bands to work so well. All the bands had different sounds but all fitted in well with each other. The Fireball team helped get the fans in the party mood with their free shots and giveaways, and the stage crew got the changeovers done quickly so each of the bands got a decent length set. A great night.

Ant May
I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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