LIVE: McFly @ Alexandra Palace

By Jess McCarrick

Sound is littering the vast, hollow workmanship of Alexandra Palace as McFly make their debut at the iconic London venue on their ‘Power To Play’ tour, celebrating the release of their latest album which shares the same name. The four piece were the reason that you wanted to dye your hair five different colours in the early 2000’s, and now they are standing rough and ready to deliver a show that embodies a new era of their sound.

Their new album’s lead single ‘Where Did All the Guitars Go’ is soon bouncing around on metallic strings, as the room lights up with technicolour. Hands are flying up in the air, generations old and new finding companionship in the riveting excitement of the show’s beginning. The hall is brimming with synchronicity as movements reflect the distortion emerging from the riffs of the track. This album has hints of a rockier edge, seen clearly on the following ‘Land of the Bees’. Flames are dressing the poignant moments – quite the sight to see – and if there’s one thing Alexandra Palace lends itself to, it’s production value. The boys are taking full advantage of that. 

A whistlestop tour of their hits sees index fingers in the air chanting “one, one, one” over and over again for track ‘One For The Radio’, a thunderous boom in the hands of the ten thousand that make up the capacity of Ally Pally. Suddenly we’re swept into ‘Star Girl’ as the band side step in unison back and forth across the stage, a moment of comical levity displaying the still infectious connection the four have. This segment ends with an audience member on stage to play an instrument that “none of us can play” exclaims Danny Jones – and that was of course a cow bell. So follows a momentous peak where a front row fan got to be the core beat of ‘Everybody Knows’, to the deafening applause and enjoyment of all watching. 

The show was a who’s who given the number of guests that appeared amongst the setlist. Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari brings his magnetic stage presence to track ‘Corrupted’, hinting at the heavier tendencies McFly have leaned towards in the latter parts of their career. Not only that, but James Bay also meanders on stage, fedora on his head, joining them in a cover of ‘Hold Back The River’ which is met with audible gasps throughout the room. Bay is another icon of modern British music, pairing his vocals with those of Jones and Tom Fletcher creates a silky harmony softly bouncing around the walls – a breathtaking moment. 

After listening to the length of the setlist, you have to applaud what the band manages to bring to the live counterparts of their recorded discography. You wouldn’t be mistaken if you thought we were at a full on rock show, with rumbling clashing of wild bass riffing deepening the heart of each track, and unsoftened high hat taps on the drums bringing a quickening pace of energy to every beat. The four piece are quite the cohesive power unit.

A moment of respite arrives with an acoustic rendition of ‘All About You’, where Jones and Fletcher display their angelic vocal ability as Fletcher also gestures to the rafters in tribute to his wife. ‘Not Alone’, is an emotionally flooded moment showing the full scope of their respective vocal range proving that you can say what you want about them, they sure can sing. 

Closing the show feels like an odd right of passage for all the McFly fans that grew with the band and still hold a place for them in a modern era where British boy-bands don’t occupy as much space as they have in the past. With a memorable shred of quick chord succession comes what could’ve been the soundtrack of the era; confetti of five colours canvassing the room from ceiling to fingertips. ‘5 Colours in Her Hair’ is a fitting end to a show that holds a lot of weight. McFly, 25 years later, showing that they stuck around for a reason, only continuing to develop their craft and they never stopped loving it. You can see it in their grinning faces as the room, for the final time, falls into darkness.