Ok, so this week alternative (or as some still say pop punk ) music artist Fall Out Boy releases the long awaited MAN I A (or is it MANIA with no spaces?) album and I thought back on their concert at The Forum this past November. It was a shiny moment of happy that stands out in the year. The Forum was buzzing with a positive and youthful energy from kids to adult music fans with kids in anticipation of the FOB’s LA stop on the North American stretch of the MANIA (or, pre-MANIA) tour.
Firstly, I love and respect this band for many reasons:
- Their longevity – 17 years is pretty epic in the music world – and they still like each other!! They’ve been playing together all that time, barring a brief ‘hiatus’ and through their musical evolutions, collaborations and massive success they have maintained a welcome realness in an industry often associated with posturing and short-lived victories.
- Their fearlessness – they have played around with their sound being true to who they are in the moment, embracing their past without rehashing it.
- Their openness – about their process, about embracing multiple forms of music and collaborators, about their challenges too
- Their attitude and personality – They are a band of four unique individuals and their personalities shine through their music, their performances and their videos. I love that they speak of each other with love and respect. I love that they speak of their fans and colleagues with love and respect too. It is great to see a band from a punk core yet who have evolved to encompass more than that rage. They show that there is more to sing about than just anger and that it is indeed cool to be kind and even cool to be happy. They also have their own quirk and humor wearing it boldly, unafraid to send themselves up in their videos.
It is very cool to see a frontman like Patrick Stump with a stadium sized voice capable of everything from a croon to a float to a roar while playing guitar and piano and rocking it in a cardigan and sneakers. And the more colorful Pete Wentz who so naturally takes over the usual frontman duties of talking to and going out into the audience connecting them to the spirit of the music. Andy covered in tats, pounding the drums with a fierceness that is in beautiful contrast to his soft-spoken nature. Joe is a clear focused, fun guitarist and presence that roots us in rock without any pretention or cliché. A damn fine band I think.
Now the show.
Note: Black Bear and Jaden Smith supported them on this tour. I am sorry to have missed these guys due to time constraints tho.
They opened with the powerful "Phoenix" and sounded tight with Patrick in good form to take on his marathon of singing Fall Out Boy songs all night. He certainly doesn’t take it easy on himself. As a singer I respect that. I do wonder if an oxygen tank is standing by though. The man barely has time to breathe.
Pete addressed the audience asking us to get in the car with them for the next 90 minutes. We did. Singing along to great tunes from their wild and fun career to embracing the newest tunes off the MANIA album – to be released January 19, 2018. One of these new songs, “Young and Menace”, has a tricky chorus in the recorded version that posed a challenge to do live. I had heard the band do a full version on the Tonight Show with Fallon with both Patrick and a digital voice doing the chorus, which because of the overlapping lines is a rough job for a singer. He did a great job, but if FOB shows are a marathon for Patrick this song is like a sprint relay with no one for him to pass the baton to. Exhausting. At the Forum the band took a different approach – a brilliant piano only version allowing Patrick to stretch tempo and show off his soul voice. Sorted!
They also played my favorite of the new releases, “The Last of the Real Ones”, which Pete described as being about finding someone whose glitches match your own. For me the song was a sigh of relief in finding someone that makes you feel home, or at least less alone. I am so glad that they followed their guts and delayed the album release (which was originally set for this past September) because according to a tweet by Pete this song was created a week after the album was delayed. Perhaps if it weren’t delayed we would have been denied this exciting song.
Other songs from MANIA they performed include “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” – which Pete just introduced as “Expensive Mistakes” – with the great line “I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color”. This line is apparently a nod to the Addams Family film (and a statement maybe the goths and emos can agree on? Maybe? No? oh well…). Pete was mouthing the words while Patrick was singing. In a way they do sing together. They also did “Hold Me Tight or Don’t” with images on the screens reflecting the Day of the Dead images of the music video. "Expensive Mistakes", "Dance, Dance" and "Thnks Fr th Mmrs" were played with the band atop rising platforms at the opposite end of the arena from the stage giving those fans furthest away a shot to see the band a bit closer. They may be hugely famous and hugely successful but it feels that part of them is still that band in a basement with their audience inches (if that) from their faces. They have done many things to bridge the gap created by fame and this is one of those gestures.
Andy gave a great drum solo while the rest of the band was being wheeled under the stage to meet him. Joe joined him on his platform with Patrick and Pete on another raised even higher. With no railings around these platforms I can’t blame them for being tethered to them like rock climbers on belay. Who wants to try to give a great performance while sweating and thinking “Oh shit I hope I don’t fall off this thing!”
The visuals were bright and bold on the main stage screen and surrounding the rising platforms. I was mainly interested in just seeing the band do their thing, but if they want to fill an arena with flashy images, go for it! One place where it was particularly funny was in “I Don’t Care” when the screens flashed images from films, gaming and everyday people flipping the bird in various ways.
The Monsters (or Llamas as most are calling them) from the various MANIA videos and red carpets made an appearance. They first showed up on screen doing a kind of Statler & Waldorf (Muppets) snarky critique of the show, and then showed up on stage with T-shirt cannons. Hey, those costumes must have been expensive. They are so memorable and entertaining it makes sense to use them as often as possible. With the new URL llamania.com could it mean we will see even more from these…whatever they are?
Though my friends and I did miss “Young Volcanoes” (we just have a soft spot for that song) the Save Rock and Roll album was well represented including the opener “The Phoenix” and “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” in the encore. They also did “Save Rock and Roll” and it is fun to hear Patrick singing Elton John’s lines. He got range!
In traditional fashion the last song of the encore was “Saturday”. I could feel the collective mix of joy & sadness – joy for the following of a familiar, loved tradition and sadness for a fun night with some of our favorite musicians coming to an end. As the confetti and T-shirt parachutes rained down I felt happier for having been there for those 2 hours. That’s the magic of a great band. Thanks guys.
The awesome people at setlist.fm assembled the set list for this date and you can view it here
Remember MANIA drops this week! 1-19-2018 https://falloutboy.com/
This not a sponsored post