LIVE: Four Year Strong / Hit The Lights / Forever Came Calling / Light You Up @ Electric Ballroom, London

By Ben Tipple

There’s a distinctive buzz enveloping Camden’s Electric Ballroom early on tonight, as the Pure Noise Records backdrop dominates the seductively lit stage. The return to UK shores of heavy pop-punk powerhouse Four Year Strong alone is enough to push excitement to fever pitch, yet their surprisingly varied array of supports help to really get pulses racing.

The only British band on the bill, Birmingham’s Light You Up are also the least pop-punk. Their unquestionably catchy melodies are delivered with a heavier rock vibe than on record, led by the highly skilled vocals of frontman Tom Napier. Far removed from the headliners, their sound ultimately channels commercial rock contemporaries such as Mallory Knox perhaps more than planned, but there’s no denying their songwriting prowess.

Some odd spoken word moments, and perhaps one too many sentimental affirmations leave proceedings feeling a little cheesy at times, but that doesn’t distract from the sheer quality musicianship on offer. Clearly ecstatic to be part of the tour, Napier abandons the stage altogether to deliver heartfelt lyrics from the rapidly expanding pit. In amongst all of this, there are occasional glimpses of true showmanship shining through Light You Up’s raw honesty that point towards brighter things.

Californians Forever Came Calling carry the pop-punk flag with aplomb, although their impact is slightly diminished by difficulties in balancing the vocals. It proves increasingly difficult to make out any of the words coming out of Joe Candelaria’s mouth, both during songs and in-between, yet the fast paced melodies are solid. From this display, there’s little to make Forever Came Calling stand out of the pack but what they do, they do well.

Recovering from his chest infection earlier in the tour, Hit The Lights frontman Nick Thompson immediately gets the crowd going. Despite the inevitable missed note following an illness, they proceed to speed through a handful of crowd pleasers, ending on an explosive rendition of ‘Bodybag’. New tracks, particularly the well-received ‘Fucked Up Kids’, sit comfortably next to the fan favourites as Hit The Lights demonstrate just why the UK has been so eager to have them return.

Somewhat surprisingly, despite being marketed as the Pure Noise Records tour, this show belongs to Four Year Strong. The crowd within the Electric Ballroom seems to visibly swell as the Massachusetts lot launch into ‘What The Hell Is A Gigawatt’. From there the setlist is well balanced, predominantly taking in the heavy hitters from ‘Enemy Of The World’ and newer material from ‘Go Down In History’. Perhaps tellingly the band only venture into ‘In Some Way, Shape, or Form’ territory for ‘Stuck In The Middle’, opting to steer mostly clear of their 2011 release.

Whichever song they are playing, they play it exceptionally well. There’s a reinvigorated force emanating from the stage that builds electricity from the front to the notoriously difficult back of tonight’s venue. There’s nothing gimmicky about Four Year Strong’s ability to balance the pop-punk tendencies with the heavier breakdown moments, as they glide perfectly together in a live environment. Closing on ‘Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)’ and pushing the unashamed party button in tonight’s venue, nobody leaving the Electric Ballroom tonight is wishing for their time back.