Normally when a band announces their demise, it’s against a backdrop of internal conflict. Be it down to musical differences, or the feeling that the project has run its course, farewell tours have the potential to be very sombre affairs. Often a mere formality; thrown to the fans for their years of support. Throw in the misfortune of the bands bassist being hospitalised by a mystery illness, and cause for celebration seem very remote indeed.
Apparently, Yellowcard missed this particular memo. Storming the stage to the pummelling power chords of ‘Way Away’, you could be fooled into thinking that this was a band still in the first throws of youth, revelling in the excitement of the beginning of their life on the road. The enthusiasm is contagious, and ensures that the crowd are suitably excited: the standard for the rest of the evening set incredibly high.
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The pace shows no signs of slowing down, as the band deliver expectedly loud and fun renditions of ‘Breathing’ and usual set-closer, ‘Ocean Avenue’. Admittedly, it’s slightly jarring to hear Ocean Avenue this early into the set, but as this was billed as a full album show, there can be no complaints.
The band play through the rest of ‘Ocean Avenue’ (the album) effortlessly and enjoyably; with rarities such as ‘View From Heaven’ and ‘Inside Out’ slotting in, and sounding equally at home as set mainstays like ‘Only One’ and ‘Believe’. The nature of the ‘whole record’ show ensures a nice flow to proceedings, and-more importantly- that everyone hears their favourite.
With ‘Back Home’ the main set is ended in a suitably wistful and nostalgic manner. An oddly appropriate point to end on, putting a full-stop on a 20 year career, as though the band has come full circle.
Of course, a headliner’s set cannot be limited to 13 songs, and the encore is littered with more favourites and rarities from across Yellowcard’s expansive back-catalogue. ‘Gifts and Curses’, a track written specifically for the Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, goes down particularly well. The post-rock breakdown in the middle of this track showcases the often overlooked musicianship of the band perfectly. As the show reaches its barnstorming conclusion with ‘Lights and Sounds’, it brings a joyous conclusion to proceedings, and ensures everyone leaves in high spirits.
Having attended such a brilliant show, it is often easy to forget what doesn’t go according to plan. Bassist Josh Portman was struck down by a mystery illness before the band’s Birmingham show; forcing them to play a welcome, but unplanned acoustic show. Vocalist Ryan Key, also falls victim to this lurgy, and suffers from a sore throat on the night. He still manages to belt out the hits to an incredibly high standard, but as he admitted to the crowd, he is struggling through the illness: chugging medicinal honey between songs.
With Yellowcard’s demise, pop-punk is losing a truly iconic band. Their sound is different from anything offered by the rest of the pack, due in no small part to Sean Mackin’s violin. Rather than focus on the end, however, this goodbye was a celebration. Sure, it is the end of Yellowcard, but this show was the very essence of a hero going down fighting. Instead of widespread tears, everyone goes home with a smile on their face-taking with them the perfect memory of the band with the violin. To paraphrase Yellowcard-they may be miles apart, but there’ll always be in every audience members’ heart.