With Confidence & ROAM – Manchester, UK (26th September 2019)

The night is kicked off by suzzy Australian alt-rock newcomers The Dead Love. Considering that this is the band’s first time on these shores, this is an excellent debut.  The Dead Love has a stage-presence and confidence that is beyond the years of many veteran acts, let alone a band just starting out. They combine a bratty pop-punk attitude with a grungy 90’s sound and aesthetic. Expect huge things from this trio.

Scottish party rockers Woes follow The Dead Love with a triumphant set. The Edinburgh band is tailor-made support for this tour; specialising in upbeat indie pop-punk, which compliments the headliners’ respective sounds perfectly. Their audience interaction goes a long way to winning more than a few new friends tonight. There will definitely be a few more die-hard fans following the entirety of their next UK tour.

ROAM are the first of the evening’s headliners to take to the stage. Frontman Alex Costello bounds onstage wearing a sweatband around his head; telling you all you need to know as to what kind of energy to expect from this set.

While ROAM’s first two records are straight-up pop-punk in the 2002 New Found Glory and Blink 182 mould. However, new release ‘Smile Wide’ saw the band branching out into alt-rock territory, but losing none of that earnest energy. All of which was combined brilliantly in this live set.

The set is opened with the cool swagger of ‘Don’t Think I Live There Anymore’, their latest single, which the majority of the crowd already know word-for-word. This is followed by two quick-fire tracks from 2017’s ‘Great Heights and Nose Dives’. Both ‘Alive’ and ‘Flatline’ generate enthusiastic moshing throughout the pit. That sweatband definitely came in useful!

From here, the set is understandably heavy on material from ‘Smile Wide’. It is an undeniably great record, and goes down well with fans old and new. The biggest cheers of the night, however, come for ‘Deadweight’ and ‘Hopeless Case’ from 2016’s ‘Backbone’.

As a set, it’s incredibly strong, and maintains the band’s reputation as one of the most fun, energetic, and simply good, live bands in the scene.

Following ROAM, With Confidence returns after a couple of years filled with as many ups, as there were downs. While there was the successful release of album ‘Love and Loathing’, there was the dismissal of previous guitarist Luke Rockets after allegations of sexual misconduct, and similar accusations levelled against frontman Jayden Seeley.

However, it seems that With Confidence have put all of their difficulties behind them, as they hit the stage living up to their name. The set is opened with ‘Moving Boxes’ and ‘Archers’, both of which are performed very well, and go down well with the band’s long-serving fans.

Like ROAM, With Confidence’s set is heavy on material from their latest record. However, while the former focus on audience interaction and a high-octane performance to get their show over with the crowd, With Confidence are seemingly focussed more on ensuring that they sound good live. A lot of the tracks performed here sound almost identical to how they do on the studio albums. It makes for a tight, if not overly memorable set.

Where With Confidence cannot be faulted, however, is their activism and their philosophy of giving something back to the scene and their fans. The band recently recorded a cover of ‘Drops of Jupiter’ for ‘Songs that Saved My Life’-a compilation which benefits mental health and suicide prevention charities. The band acknowledges the importance of this, and also recognises the impact that their own material can have on the lives of their fans. It’s a nice touch, which goes to show the ongoing impact of this issue on this scene. Not to mention, the cover is very, very good!

The set is wound-up with a rousing rendition of ‘Voldermort’, the opening track from 2016’s ‘Better Weather’.

All-in-all, the show demonstrates that co-headlining tours are still vital to the survival of the scene in 2019. The best way for bands to win new fans remains winning over fans from the camps of their contemporaries, and co-headlining tours only increases the exposure for all bands involved. This is also true for the support acts, and the strength of the support shows that there are still legs left in this scene, and it could still spring a few surprises over the coming years.