The Wonder Years are definitively pop-punk. Not in the Bowling For Soup ‘let’s pretend we’re still getting drunk at college parties’ way. The band have a more matured, authentic and heavy-hearted approach to the genre. The Pennsylvanian sixth-piece are more in touch with real life issues, like seeing everyone around them growing up and getting married, while they’re still counting pennies on their fourth broken down van of the tour.
Last year the band’s critically acclaimed fourth studio album The Greatest Generation forced heads to turn their way so fast that there’s been several well documented neck traumas because of it. Tracks from the album that represented the middle aged not as successful as your neighbour lifestyle like ‘There, There’ and ‘The Devil in My Bloodstream’, provides the backbone of the set.
In a sold out venue filled with people who’ve grown up on the likes of Blink 182 and and Green Day, The Wonder Years are the soundtrack to the next stages in their lives, which is likely why there’s such an emotional recitement of every lyric sang back towards singer Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell. Soupy has such a staggering vocal command and presence when he’s interacting with the audience, you can’t help but be mesmerized by his pre-song speeches that could easily be collated for an autobiography.
Bassist Josh Martin is just as energetic when the band kick in. Physically towering over the rest of the band, you can see the excitement in his eyes that he’s playing their biggest and potentially best UK headline show to date. When they unexpectedly play B-side ‘You’re Not Salinger. Get Over It’, the crowd-surfers double in quantity, with some making obstacle courses out of the monitors to try jump onto the stage.
Ending on ‘I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral’ that reprises most of the songs from the latest album, only the fussy go away saying they didn’t get to hear the hits. Tonight sees The Wonder Years add a firm exclamation mark to this chapter of their journey, as Soupy proves he’s got past most of the personal demons that he’s turned into anthems. You leave wondering whether the band’s next chapter can tell an even better story.