LIVE: Simple Plan / Mayday Parade / State Champs @ Eventim Apollo, London

By Jess McCarrick

London’s Eventim Hammersmith Apollo has a sense of vastness to it, the sprawling sea of heads seem to continue endlessly to the very edges of the room. Amongst the dimly lit shadows of audience members, there’s a palpable air of anticipation; few bands hold a legacy in line with Simple Plan. Tonight, a fervent room awaits the groups largest London showing, it is time for nostalgia to take its grasp as the lights flicker, the crowd making its crescendo to greet the bands. 

State Champs kick off our evening with a full embrace of their emo sound, evidently resonating with the crowd as their raspy voices filling the room in support. The band brings with them a cohort of fans who spend the set crowd surfing, successfully setting a tone for the evening – the same can be said of the band as their energy lingers with us even after leaving the stage.

With vocals that teeter on the edge of a roar, Mayday Parade holds nothing back for the short time they have with the room, ensuring to fill it with the noise of their purest pop-punk sensibilities, marked by relentless drums and ferocious guitar riffs. Their introspective musings, though a different energy to what is upcoming, hold true to the roots of the band. Finishing with crowd-pleasers ‘Jersey’ and ‘Jamie All Over’, the final taste left in the mouth is that of ferocity, and now the stage is set.

Simple Plan frontman Pierre Bouvier has to take a breath as his eyes flicker beyond the headlights of the stage, he’s showing a clear sense of awe as the black clad audience begin to swim in front of him to the beginning riffs of ‘I’d Do Anything’. Throughout the song, drummer Chuck Comeau cuts through with rapid precision, his eagerness to hit each note resonating with the swelling crowd as we meet the first chorus. The unfolding setlist only ups the ante, with songs like ‘Jump’ inciting mass dedication to the lyrical instruction. 

It’s easy to see the members’ smitten faces, lips turning upward, cracking smiles and exchanging sideways glances between moments. Their energy is kinetic, the stage heightening the best parts of them, whether it’s Bouvier’s charisma on the mic, guitarist Jeff Stinco’s spotlighted solos, or their guidance of audience members on stage for a fan photo op that brings nothing but a sense of camaraderie. 

As we are swept through their career highlights like ‘Addicted’ and ‘Welcome To My Life’ it’s still easy to find the joy in them. Sure, the words may play into juvenile stereotypes, but at some point or another, everyone in the room felt understood, and that feeling lingers.

The show’s levity shines through when the band performs ‘What’s New Scooby Doo?’ A fitting moment where pop culture meets pop culture, forever solidifying the band’s legacy whilst still playing upon their comedic edge. In an era dominated by fleeting successes, you can’t help but wonder how a band can stand out? Well, why not write a theme song for a misfit-ridden mystery cartoon that perfectly epitomizes the  core of what you stand for? The crowd revels in the moment, thrashing in time with the cutting guitar melodies overlaid with distortion, evoking the time it was written.

Some frontmen can feel formidable, as if they weigh the room down, but this is not the case for Simple Plan. Bouvier exudes a natural presence, his steps light, his quips funny, and his voice unfaltering. He makes it look easy without arrogance, charismatic without eagerness and relatable without inauthenticity. It’s these qualities that make it easy to understand why the band has sustained themselves for decades. Despite their music evolving through numerous eras, they seamlessly tap into each album with grace. We can all name a few bands who stand resentful of their past releases but Simple Plan are not one of them. The crowd is mirroring the genuine enthusiasm of the band, this being the case for the whole setlist, deep dives and new alike.

Bouvier decides it’s time to swap places with Comeau and both are able to take the others reigns with ease. Where drummers sometimes get lost in the mix during live shows, that’s not the case tonight. His bassier voice carries through up into the rafters and Bouvier’s kick drum remains in sync, the moment is a testament to their cohesion and skill.

The band tightens their grip with the final procession of the encore. ‘I’m Just A Kid’ becomes a portal back to childhood angst when youth was still the problem, not one foot remains on the ground, and we’re jumping in meaningful synchronicity, reliving once again a moment in time, but this time… we’re together. Simple Plan reminding us why they continue to be a beacon for outcasts and alike, a rallying force for nonconformists – and what a night to celebrate that.