On the 2nd February 2017, Dan Campbell from The Wonder Years performed a one-off, full band show with his side project ‘Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties’ at The Dome in London.
For those unfamiliar to Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties, Aaron West is a fictional character that Campbell made up for this project, stating on his Facebook page that it is a “character study conducted through music”. Campbell performs Aaron West shows completely in character.
The show had originally been booked at The Boston Music Rooms, but with a high demand that left the tickets selling out in less than a day, the venue upgraded. Many of the audience had attended The Wonder Years the night before, creating a friendly atmosphere even before the support acts came on stage.
British singer song-writer Katie Malco was the first support of the night, although seeming nervous upon entering the stage, slowly began to look more and more confident as the set went on. Between songs she made the effort to speak to the audience, instantly making what could have been a silent, awkward moment in to a much more bearable one. A soft voice, easy to listen to, it was clear that Malco was definitely a strong opener for the night.
Next to the stage was Thom Weeks, from the pop-punk band Gnarwolves. His cheeky smile was contagious from the get-go, and he spoke to the audience as if he was speaking to friends. Performing both songs his own EP and songs by Gnarwolves, Weeks was both fun to watch and listen to. He also treated the audience to a cover of Pulling Teeth by Green Day, which drew well-deserved attention towards the singer. An entertaining and lively set, Thom Weeks truly was a pleasure to watch.
A last-minute support came from Rob Lynch, confusing most of the crowd. Lynch stated a few songs in that he had originally come as a punter, with no intention to play – until Campbell asked him too. Down to earth and humble, Rob Lynch was a bonus edition to an already solid line up.
The crowd had filled up more towards the stage in preparation for Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties. The band entered, with Dan Campbell in the character of Aaron West introduced himself and the band, before going straight in to ’67 Cherry Red’, a song off the most recent 7” album Bittersweet. The crowd were eagerly singing along, knowing that this was a one-off full band show for a while. This was an opportunity they could not miss.
The set consisted of the whole of Aaron Wests’ discography, performed completely in character by Campbell. Creating a more laid-back atmosphere filled with raw emotion, Campbell was almost flawless throughout the entire set, making the character of Aaron West so believable that the audience felt for him.
Humble both in person and in character, Campbell successfully pulled off a set that captivated an audience. Watching a concept album of a fictional character was unique, and an almost intimate gig made the audience closer to West as a character. The full band made the set more energizing without having to run around the stage. The way that Campbell portrayed West without tiring made it feel like you were watching a completely different person, fulfilling the purpose of the solo project. The unique stories to go along with the set made West a likeable character, bringing the audience in to a completely different world. A complete contrast to The Wonder Years, but a show that had a different type of energy and passion.
An emotional, enjoyable, and rare evening. A show that many of the fans will not forget.