Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Gig Review: Me First And The Gimme Gimmes at o2 Shepherd's Bush Empire 25/2/17

Saturday the 25th of February was one of those wonderful but also rubbish gig nights in London. It was wonderful because there was a lot on but it was rubbish because I can't be in more than one place at a time. At the Camden Underworld the TNS Records Tour was in town, the second night of a new festival named South East Fest was happening at DIY Space headlined by Great Cynics and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes and Masked Intruder were playing at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. We had tickets for the Gimme Gimmes show. Here's what happened.

First up were a young band from Sheffield playing their first ever London show. What a place to be doing it! Sweet Little Machine are a four piece pop punk band who are the winners of Fireball's Hottest Band of 2017 award. Playing to what was already a substantially sized crowd didn't seem to faze the band as they kicked off their opening song with a great amount of bravado. It didn't seem cocky though, just a band with the utmost confidence in their ability. And rightly so as they played a fast paced and energetic set. So much work has clearly gone into perfecting their live show and they appeared to be so tight despite their relative inexperience. As I watched they reminded me of one of my all time favourite pop punk bands, Chicago's Allister. A good number of the crowd really seemed to enjoy what Sweet Little Machine were doing as well, as they got involved with some sing-a-longs for the songs We Used To Own These Playgrounds and War. A band with everything going for them, I expect to see a lot more of Sweet Little Machine in the future.

Up next were everyone's favourite criminals, the wonderful Masked Intruder. Only this time it was a slightly different Masked Intruder to what we're used to. Tonight, and for the entire tour, Fraser from Scottish pop punks The Murderburgers was filling in on guitar for Intruder Green as he is currently “in prison”. It was clear some of the crowd still weren't sure who Masked Intruder were as we overheard someone behind us ask if they keep the masks on for the entire set. I always think when it comes to Masked Intruder, what if aliens were to arrive and this was the first music they saw/heard - they'd think we are all crazy and then stay because Masked Intruder are one of the most entertaining bands around. This was my fifth time seeing the band and all of the stage banter about committing crimes and chasing girls still doesn't get old or stale. If anything I am more entertained by it every time. Of course Officer Bradford was giving his usual police escort of the band before the power of rock 'n' roll overcame him and he joined the crowd in going crazy for the band. Making his way round the crowd for dancing, hugs and high fives and commenting on the best looking member of the crowd's Fest hoody (me). Masked Intruder are one of those must see live acts whenever they roll into your town.

Finally it was time for everyone's favourite punk rock super group cover band - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes! The band, featuring members of Lagwagon, Bad Religion, Uke Hunts and Face To Face, have been a popular act for over twenty years now, regularly touring the UK despite all of their other projects. Really the Gimme Gimmes are a bit of a novelty act and shouldn't be taken that seriously but they are just so gosh darn good. I think part of making a cover version of a song good is transforming it so much you could be forgiven for not realising that the song is a cover. As ever with a headline act the crowd seemed to swell towards the front of the stage as we prepared for an evening of getting bumped into whilst singing along to my mum's favourite songs. And that is exactly what happened. Front man Spike Slawson is as charismatic as ever as he leads the band and the packed crowd in some massive sing-a-longs. There is a brilliant silliness about the whole thing with the band playing hard to songs such as Mandy, Rocketman, I Will Survive and, of course, the massively popular I Believe I Can Fly. This was a crazy fun party that will be a lot of the crowd's gig highlight of the year. Smiles were everywhere which is always good to see in these troubled times. Me First And The Gimme Gimmes offer a great form of escapism. Sometimes you need your music to be on the fun, silly, amusing side and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes do that as well as anyone.

This review was written by Colin Clark.