New Found Glory – Sheffield Octagon

By paul

The first time New Found Glory visited the UK in May 2001, they played to toilet venues of 200 people. Then late last year they jumped slightly to 500 venues. This, their third trip to these fair shores, has seen them book 1000+ capacity shows. Obviously confident that the word is spreading…and so they should be. Because New Found Glory are currently very hot property in this country. In the queue to get in to the Octagon a sea of NFG shirts and hoodies adorn the backs of eager kids waiting to get a glimpse of their heroes. I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people here are here to see one band, and one band only.

Unfortunately for this tour, guitarist Chad Gilbert has been forced to sit out due to a bad case of tonsilitis, and was replaced by his guitar tech, and roommate, Steve. Chad’s presence on stage with NFG is amazing, leaping and contorting his body every which way, playing the perfect foil to singer Jordan and portly bassist Ian Grushka. But tonight, without Chad, there’s a little something missing. Newcomer Steve fills in admirably but he’s no Chad…

Walking on to rapturous applause, guitarist Steve Klein kicks things off with the intro riff for ‘Ballad For The Lost Romantics’, setting the scene for absolute carnage, both on the stage and in the crowd. Jordan and Ian bound around the stage like madmen and drummer Cyrus Bolooki pounds his kit as if his life depended on it. A sea of crowdsurfers swamp the security guards and the pit at the front is a mass of thriving bodies jumping and singing along with gusto. Not only do NFG connect so well with their fans, they treat them like old friends. And when the intro to ‘Better Off Dead’ is ripped out, things get taken up a notch again as absolute mayhem descends. And you can hear the crowd sing every word. “Ash his heart onto the ground, pull his guts out in frustration,” is yelled back at Jordan, who despite a few technical glitches, is on top form all night.

Tonight’s gig is typical NFG. Jordan interacts with the crowd, there’s tomfoolery in abundance, comedy dancing from Ian and a vast selection of pop-punk perfection. ‘Dressed To Kill’, ‘Sincerely Me’ and ‘Hit Or Miss’ get huge welcomes from the fans, as does ‘The Neverending Story Theme’, which for one night only becomes ‘Bloody Fucking Sunday’. An interesting change… The biggest cheer of the night goes up for Kenny Vasoli of The Starting Line who switches to bass for one track. Stripped down to just his pants, Jordan gets all the girls to scream for Kenny. They duly oblige and the band rip it up again.

There’s also a smattering of new songs, seeing as though new record ‘Sticks and Stones’ is released in June. Current single ‘My Friend’s Over You’ is played as an encore, and two other newie’s are also aired. The first, which I don’t know the name, is typical NFG, punky, perky and poppy. The second, ‘Head On Collision’, is an absolute monster of a song, with a thunderous riff and is destined to be a fans favourite. If all the songs are as good as this, ‘Sticks and Stones’ will be a very good record indeed.

‘Sucker’ and a brilliant ‘Boy Crazy’ follow on, as hit after hit is blasted out leaving very little time to draw breath. ‘Vegas’, inroduced as “a song about gambling” by Steve Klein, is also top drawer stuff. Unfortunately there are a few technical glitches with the sound. Jordan’s vocals were sometimes too low in the mix and guitarist Steve had problems with his guitar. Steve Klein was even forced to change his guitar midway through a song. Despie this, they carried on as if nothing had happened, testament to how professional they really are.

Coming back for a three song encore, you really don’t want NFG to leave. But the news that they will be back in August is a tonic. ‘Broken Sound’ is the first of the three, but new guitarist Steve messes up the intro, and Jordan’s voice isn’t quite spot on. New single ‘My Friend’s Over You’ is blasted out, but despite heavy rotation on MTV2, isn’t recognised by all that many fans, which is a shame because it is NFG at their best. Closing with ‘Glory Of Love’ is a masterstroke, NFG’s best cover and a personal favourite.

Sheffield wasn’t treated to the best NFG performance I have seen, probably due to the lack of Chad. But still this is quite possibly one of the most entertaining live bands on planet pop-punk at the moment. And with 1000 punters leaving with smiles on their faces, you know full well that Reading and Leeds could well be their crowning moment.

Paul Savage