The All American Rejects – Leeds University

By paul

THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS + Matchbook Romance + The Format
Sunday September 24th
Leeds, The Refectory

I love The Format, and when I say ‘love’, I mean ‘LOVE’. I’d been looking forward to this for a long, long time. Oh my word was I let down. Any emotion from the songs was removed – the vocals were clear and strong, but the music was barely present – by poor sound and the band held little to no stage presence. They persisted however, and pulled out a highlight in the latter parts of Janet – with vocals taking centre stage. Choosing to end with a cover, a rubbish one, of a rubbish song – omitting songs such as Snails, I’m Ready, I am, and Time Bomb – just adds a final nail to the coffin of a very undrwhelming set. Seriously, get The Format over here for a headline tour in smaller/decent venues, and then I’ll pass judgement on their live show then. (6.5)
Setlist: Tune Out, Wait Wait Wait, The Compromise, The First Single, Janet, I’m Actual, Cover: Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us

Main support tonight comes from Matchbook Romance, and they definitely give us the first ‘WTF?’ moment of the night. Their intro is definitely ‘something’ – screams included – and they launch straight into their opening track, which in contrast to our opening band, the vocals sound muffled, and the music takes centre stage. 7 songs of average rock music that leaves me wondering how so many kids respond so well to what they do later, and I’ve had at least 4 songs too many. Their third outing gets some kudos for handclaps, but all in all, I’m left uninspired. (5)

The All-American Rejects were on Popworld this morning on T4 whilst I was at work. Are they really becoming this much of a big deal? Tonight’s audience says yes…
…and after borrowing a bit of Bon Jovi’s lighting rig, supporting this big deal idea, the band take no time launching into their biggest hit, before displaying the better parts of their debut and follow up albums. Whilst ‘Straightjacket Feeling’ might have made a better first encore, and ‘Happy Endings’ would’ve been a welcome addition, you might be hard pushed to find a better ‘Move Along’-heavy set, and although the sound is pretty bad, the lights are sometimes inspired – whereas at others blinding. The band are onstage for an hour, including encores, and don’t outstay their welcome – maybe 2 or 3 more songs would make the show better value for money? (7.5)
Setlist: Dirty Little Secret, My Paper Heart, Top Of The World, Stab My Back, Dance Inside, Eyelash Wishes, I’m Waiting, It Ends Tonight, Swing Swing.
Encore: Night Drive, Move Along.

The main gripe with tonight is that The Refectory really isn’t up to its competition alongside venues such as Brixton Academy, Birmingham Academy and Manchester Apollo. The place becomes a sauna, the sound is pretty much always below standard, and the end of the show appears more like a cattle market than a gig. I’d rather keep the shows to a smaller, more appropriate ‘venue’ – like The Met.