Almost exactly a year to the day since I attended the first leg of Jaret Reddick’s Heartache and Hilarity tour in Manchester, I was lucky enough get to see the second round tonight at The Plug in Sheffield. There are a number of bands notorious for touring with Bowling for Soup over the years. While a reformed Army Of Freshman joined the band for their UK tour earlier in the year, The Dollyrots and Lacey were back with Reddick for his solo tour this evening.
Up first were local boys Lacey who kicked the evening off with a short but sweet acoustic set. Entering the stage to the backing track of Toto’s “Africa”, there was a joke that the rest of the set may be a bit of an anti-climax before starting their set with “Hoax”. Before diving into their second track there was a comment about how far away the crowd felt, a reference to the enormous photo pit that I was the only photographer in all evening.
Before playing “Shadows”, Graz Turner on lead vocals asked how many people had seen the band before and when there was a decent sized cheer from the crowd, he chuckled before stating “People don’t usually come back”. After squeezing in a quick cover of the Yellowcard’s track “Ocean Avenue”, the band apologised for being away for a while as they had been working on some new material, before treating the ever-growing crowd to a brand new song. The song was so new in fact that it has yet to be named. Between the final two tracks the band took the time to thank Reddick for bring them along before ending on a second new song.
Next up were Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas AKA The Dollyrots, treating the crowd to some brilliant acoustic renditions of their most well-known tracks. Kicking off with “I Do”, there were instantly phones in the air recording the proceedings and most of the crowd were singing along. After another mention of the massive space between the crowd and the stage they played the world’s least subtle song about fancying your friend, “My Best Friend’s Hot”. There was then a quick story about Ogden’s sequined jacket and how one of their fans in the audience had sent it to the States as a gift.
After “Get Weird” and “Nobody Else”, Ogden joked that her arm was starting to ache due to playing bass sat down rather than the normal standing position. Up next was “Brand New Key”, a cover of the 1971 track about roller-skates by Melanie Safka, although UK people tend to be more familiar with the parody version by The Wurzels which is about a combine harvester. Throughout the song one crowd member decided to shout the words “OOOOO ARRRR” with a very convincing West Country accent and impeccable timing, which convinced Ogden to sing the words “Combine harvester” at the end of the song.
During “Jackie Chan”, Ogden asked for their three year-old son, River, to be brought on stage to say “Hello”, although when he got near the microphone he thought it would be more amusing to blow a raspberry to the crowd. After telling a joke of “What do you get if you run Batman and Robin over with a steamroller?” he sat down to let his mum and dad finish the song. The punchline to the joke (if you didn’t know already) was Flatman and Ribbon!
River stayed on stage for the next couple of songs, “Satellite” and “City of Angels”, sticking his tongue out and smiling at the people in the front row, a true show man even at such a young age. After a quick thank you to Reddick and a mention of the album Odgen and Reddick are about to release, they played the final song of the night, “Awesome”.
After entering the stage to Mika’s “Grace Kelly” and adding another comment about the huge photo pit, this time suggesting that someone farted there before the show and it had to be cordoned off, Jaret Reddick began his set with “Life After Lisa”, surprisingly a song about a girl; he has a few of those. Having been to the first leg of the tour, I knew this night was about stories from Reddick’s past and hearing some of the lesser-known Bowling For Soup tracks. I have to admit to not recognising a couple of the songs early on in the set, although this could have possibly been due to trying to figure out what ISO/shutter speed I needed to get some decent photos. After a quick chat about bands between 2005-2009 all being miserable, the upbeat “I’m Gay” from The Great Burrito Extortion Case was played. This was followed by a comment about probably not being able to write a song like that these days and that it should be ok for a word to mean two things “Cock for example, can mean penis or chicken”, an audience member also pointed out that it’s what you do to a gun, Reddick’s response to this was “Don’t mess with a guy from Texas about guns,” which received a big laugh from the crowd.
It was then time to get serious for a moment with Reddick baring all about his struggle with anxiety and depression in recent years and the fact that he has lost a number of friends to depression. The mood was lifted slightly with a story about the late Chester Bennington and the first time Reddick met him at the urinals at an award ceremony, joking with him about being famous and checking out his dick. This more serious point of the evening was rounded off perfectly with “Turbulence” with some moving lyrics and the promise that things can get better. After a quick plug for the Bowling For Soup Christmas tour and a brilliant warning of “Don’t give me shit if we aren’t playing in your town and you have to travel an hour to see us” it was time for “Where to Begin”, the second sad song in a row, despite the second one being more of a happier sad song.
“Almost” was up next which despite being played acoustically still got the crowd bouncing a little. This was followed by a story about one of the first nights that Reddick tried out the Heartbreak and Hilarity tour. It had accidentally been booked at a very religious college in America where he was asked to sign an agreement to not swear during the performance. Despite snapping a string during the set, he was able to refrain from swearing but told a slightly inappropriate joke of “What’s worse than ants in your pants?”, “Uncles!”. Apparently this didn’t go down too well with the audience as there were about 90 people at the show, only 4 people laughed and they were all part of the crew. Most of the audience then proceeded to leave. Reddick then played “Friends of Mine” which he wrote about his fellow Bowling For Soup members and best friends Chris Burney, Eric Chandler and Gary Wiseman. He told the story about recording the track for the album in one take with only the producer in the studio with him and that the rest of the band cried when they first heard it.
Ogden joined Reddick on stage for the next couple of songs “Love Ya” and “Here We Go”. They also plugged their upcoming joint album which is available to pre-order now, but also gave the warning about not spelling Kelly with an I or you will end up on an entirely different type of website. Referring back to his earlier speech on mental health, Jaret mentioned that he is now in a much better place thanks to the medication and his new wife, before playing “Catalyst”, a track which is clearly dedicated to her and helping him through such a difficult time. With the curfew time of 10pm fast approaching, Reddick stated that he “Was probably going to get in trouble for this” as he was going to play two more songs despite only having enough time for one.
There was a quick backstory behind the first song about Reddick’s grandpa advising him to pursue his dreams of being in the band as he hadn’t followed his own before playing “Drinking Beer on a Sunday”. With time ticking away, Reddick had time for two last tales about finding out who his biological father was and the fact that he had actually shook his hand at a Bowling For Soup show without him knowing before he passed away. He then followed this with a story about meeting his half-sister and nieces for the first time. One niece who introduced herself by saying “’Girl All the Bad Guys Want’ is my favourite song”, before beginning to play the song that had just been mentioned.
Reddick ended the night by asked if fans will still be coming to see him when he’s 60. Having lost count of how many times I’ve seen the full band on tour and now with two solo tours under my belt, the only thing I need to decide is which Christmas tour show to attend.
Photos by Jack Barker Photography