LIVE: The Wonder Years / Laura Stevenson / Clarity / Trash Boat @ The Dome, London

By Ben Tipple

It’s been a while since The Wonder Years headlined in the UK. The release of the seminal ‘No Closer To Heaven’ in 2015 spawned a high profile support slot on the Enter Shikari tour, but a chance for them to truly celebrate its material has taken longer. Yet tonight isn’t a one-album show. As the Philadelphian six-piece (“they’re like a pop-punk Slipknot,” our friend whispers in our ears) plough through a nineteen track setlist, it’s a celebratory journey back through their history.

The Wonder Years have found success through their integrity. Tonight’s bill is notably eclectic and evidently selective. Trash Boat, billed as Barracuda Deathwish – the band in the episode of The Regular Show from where Trash Boat draw their name – are intrinsically linked to the headliners through Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s production duties on their debut album. He’s keen to support his latest project, joining them on-stage for ‘Strangers’ as Trash Boat prove how far they have come. He elevates their sound but doesn’t overshadow, frontman Tobi Duncan holding his own against his mentor.

It’s easy to see why Newport’s Clarity have caught The Wonder Years’ attention, with their unashamed nod to turn of the century emo, delivered with a confident ease. Laura Stevenson, performing the majority of the set sans band, is an unusual choice for main support, yet one that cements The Wonder Years’ family ethos. Battling with an excitable crowd and their unavoidable noise, Stevenson delivery is delicately mesmerising. Her more recognisable full band sound makes an appearance to close her set, stopping many of the conversationalists in their tracks.

As The Wonder Years burst into ‘Brothers &’, The Dome erupts. “We’re no saviours if we can’t save our brothers,” the enthusiastic crowd sings proudly, arms raised high across the room. From here on in the jubilant atmosphere is unrelenting. Pockets of fans across the room hang on every word, finding release in Campbell’s on-point vocal delivery and cathartic lyricism. Each track is met by immeasurable appreciation, as tracks from ‘The Upsides’ and ‘Suburbia’ are welcomed with the same loving cheers as those from ‘The Greatest Generation’ or their latest. Every audience member finds something to relate to in their words, whether aware of all of their songs or just a meaningful few.

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then tonight’s are bursting. The infectious sense of camaraderie, represented throughout the audience and across the line-up, is breath-taking. As Campbell reaches towards the attentive security guard to beckon him centre-stage, the staffer grabs the microphone for the closing moments of ‘Came Out Swinging’. It’s touchingly fitting that a fan has the last word because for The Wonder Years, tonight is about far more than just a headline show.