It certainly wasn’t an unlucky Friday 13th for fans of The Wonder Years, as the band hit the Manchester Academy for an enticing and emotion-filled night.
A week after the release of their sixth studio album ‘Sister Cities’, the pop-punk giants treated fans to two sets – one acoustic, one electric – to display their wide discography and proving to their fans that they will never let them down.
Entering the sold-out venue, and you were greeted with a clad of various pop-punk band t-shirts. There was a laid-back kind of vibe, as fans prepared themselves to greet the opening act, A.W., with open arms. Taking to the stage, A.W. took no time in beginning their set, capturing the audience’s attention almost immediately. Humble, inclusive, and witty, A.W. made sure that there wasn’t a dull moment on stage as they filled any silences by talking to the audience, and receiving various forms of appraisal back. Bringing on Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years for their last song, A.W. had definitely gained a few new fans from the Manchester crowd.
An excited hum filled the large room, as The Wonder Years entered the stage for their first set of the evening. As the band took their seats, the crowd settled instantly, eager to hear the songs they adored so much in a new light. The Wonder Years did not disappoint, opening the acoustic set with ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’. Although a short set, The Wonder Years made sure to put in a range of songs that fit the acoustic setting, even slotting in an acoustic version of ‘The Ghosts of Right Now’, only found on Target’s exclusive version of their new album ‘Sister Cities’. The broken-down songs, accompanied by Dan Campbell’s compelling vocals, could send shivers down spines, showing the endless talent from all band members. Closing the first set with ‘No Closer to Heaven’, The Wonder Years had most definitely excited everyone for their main set.
As fans composed themselves after a beautiful set, the six piece came back on stage and took no time to turn the mood around. Bursting straight in to ‘Pyramids of Salt’, The Wonder Years really knew how to stir a crowd. Picking up the pace, they then powered through tracks such as ‘I Don’t Like Who I Was Then’ and ‘Thanks for the Ride’, before treating the crowd to new songs such as ‘It Must Get Lonely’ and ‘We Look Like Lightening’. Although the new album was only a week old, hard-core fans were belting out the words along with Campbell, creating almost an unknown contest of who could sing it louder.
One renowned character of The Wonder Years is the attention to detail in their lyrics, and this was more defined when hearing their songs live. The way that the words played on Campbell’s tongue, mingled with the backing vocals of guitarists Matt Brasch and Nick Steinborn, adding in the loyalty of the crowd, created an incredible environment that even words could not explain. Of course, the band didn’t let the set go by without throwing in some old songs, and it was a hard hit to the heart-strings as they played ‘Came Out Swinging’ and diving straight in to ‘The Devil in My Blood Stream’, a song that a lot of fans felt that they could relate to as they lifted their hands in unison whilst singing along. Although a touching moment, fans were ripped away from it as the band then flew in to the title track of the new album, ‘Sister Cities’.
The evening was beginning to wrap up, but not without a couple more emotional ballads in the form of ‘Cardinals’ and ‘The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me’. As the band began to walk off stage, the crowd took no time to call for an encore, keen for a few more moments before being harshly snapped back to reality. The Wonder Years entered the stage once again, performing an encore of ‘Passing Through a Screen Door’ and ‘Cigarettes and Saints’.
The Wonder Years are a band that many fans hold dear to their hearts because of their array of catchy pop-punk tunes coinciding with hard-hitting slower songs. It was clear that the night was so important to many that attended, and it means that little bit more when a band is as charmingly humble as The Wonder Years are.