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Live // NEW FOUND GLORY, The Forum, London

Pop punk heavyweights, New Found Glory embark on 20th anniversary UK tour.

20 Years of Pop Punk. Damn, that’s a long time.

It is a Friday night as the hordes of pop punk lovers flood Kentish Town heading to the O2 Forum. The weekend is almost here but reasons to celebrate are much more significant than this. New Found Glory are in town for their three-night Camden residency.

The Forum marks their first out of three London shows so the excitement and expectations are rocking sky high. The crowd showcases such a diverse age range, it is really pleasing to watch. Dads with their kids are awaiting their favourite band, older lot are proudly sporting NFG merch and youngsters are dying to see the pop punk legends.

After the raucous warm up party from ROAM, the Florida quartet emerges on stage to Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. What an entrance! Naturally, the loud chant hails from the audience the moment we hear the first note.

With huge dose of energy and a fearless spirit, NFG dive straight into their live hit Understatement. We are indeed the lucky ones as the band plays their 2002’s Sticks And Stones in full, with some self-titled album and this year’s Makes Me Sick material added to the mix.

The set serves an ultimate old school pop punk vibes. NFD are a quintessence of fast-paced and bombastic, hard-hitting and melodic, punchy and emotional. With nine studio albums in their catalogue and 20 years of experience, this is a band who knows their audience and how to put on a thrilling live performance.

“We’ve just released a new record. We’ve got 50 songs more to play”, guitarist Chad Gilbert ponders. “We appreciate all of you guys. This song is for you. You make our lives more fun. If you know it, sing it. If you don’t, pretend”, he continues as the band launches straight into their latest tune Party On Apocalypse, which goes down so well the word ‘party’ seems like a big understatement.

“Our first tour was in 1997. Every time we wake up in this band everything is just icing on the cake. It’s because you believe in us. This is for fucking being alive.” Happy Being Miserable, another track taken from their new album Makes Me Sick, encompasses new-found reflective sensibility and more rounded punk rock soundscape. More polished and sleek on the production side, but still in-your-face classic NFG that don’t mess around.

However, nostalgia takes over as older material dominates on the setlist. NFG surely have become a massive inspiration and influence on the newer generation of pop punk spectre. Their tempo variations, with hardcore-tinged breakdowns and Jordan Pundik’s idiosyncratic high pitched vocals, still shine in a live arrangement. Head On Collision is a heartfelt guitar anthem with a hint of rawness, whereas Hit Or Miss bring back that riffy recklessness of old days glory. Dougie Poynter from McFly even joins the band on bass duties.

NFG evoke a genuine attachment to their fans as the connection they’ve built over the years is truly solid. Whilst Dressed To Kill “is dedicated to those people who were just killed without a reason”, Singled Out is an opportunity for more profound speech from Gilbert about differences in beliefs, interests, religion. “We like different things and we’ve been in this band for 20 years”. Needless to say, crowdsurfing action and flying bodies accompany every track.

The set it a proper throwback to late 90’s, highly energetic with number of set choices exceeding 20. But the time is almost up. The journey we’ve been on has turned fast but melancholic in a way, and so are the songs that round off this evening. Ballad For The Lost Romantics and The Story So Far allow for a quick jump and last breath whilst My Friends Over You is an absolute pleasure to sing along to.

“Sure, everything is ending, but not yet”, as one of my favourite quotes says. Cheers to the next 20 years.

Photos: Kasia Osowiecka