Gig Review: Bowling For Soup / Simple Plan / Not Ur Girlfrenz – O2 Academy Glasgow (10th February 2020)

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these… erm… pop-punkers from Texas and Canada from rocking the socks off Glasgow on the opening night of their UK tour. Despite the best efforts of some gusts of wind and a bit of frozen water, all three bands made it to Glasgow in time (just) to warm up a crowd that really needed warming up!

Not Ur Girlfriendz (c) Jack Barker

It was hugely to Not Ur Girlfrenz‘ credit that they faced the worst of the inconveniences and still put on a hell of a show. With their kit in some random airport in the US, having had two flights cancelled and doing their soundcheck pretty much immediately before coming on stage, you’d have forgiven them if they were a little shaky. But they weren’t. At all. Sporting some instruments which may have looked a little familiar (such as Jaret’s Texas flag guitar), the girls battered hell out of the loaners and ploughed through a thirty minute set like absolute professionals.

As the teen rockers bounced through “Warped”, “Song About You”, “Game Over” and their recently-released cover of “I’m Not Okay”, even the between-song chatter was good. No nerves, great musical ability and an ability to get a (surprisingly) frosty crowd to warm to them, they did themselves proud. They definitely got a bit more crowd response in the second half of their set, with a few hands waving and a decent cheer of “Yeehaw!” when they demanded them. I still don’t like The Spice Girls (even if it’s NUGF or Patent Pending covering them) so I’m not going to mention that this final song probably got the audience bouncing more than anything else they played as I don’t want to encourage them to do more…

Simple Plan (c) Jack Barker

Unfortunately, I missed Simple Plan due to interview duties, but Steph was there to enjoy them:

Having not been in Scotland for eight years, Simple Plan came back with an absolute bang! From start to finish, they had high energy and warmed the crowd up nicely in time for Bowling for Soup. From getting the whole crowd bouncing during “Jump” to drummer Chuck Comeau crowd surfing at the end of “I’m Just a Kid” – their whole set was electric!

The highlight for me was definitely hearing them play “What’s New Scooby Doo!” I saw them at Slam Dunk in Leeds 2019 and I was desperate to hear it live then but they didn’t play it so I was ecstatic when they said they were gonna play a song from a cartoon they are known for – my little heart was warmed and filled with nostalgia. Simple Plan remain one of my top five favourite bands I’ve ever seen live – both times I have seen them have been insane and, dare I say, they topped their Slam Dunk performance!

And now back to me… (Thanks, Steph!)

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Bowling For Soup since I caught them for the first time at Download many years ago. A dozen, maybe? They never disappoint and tonight was going to prove to be another quality performance. I’m loathed to go through the setlist in case anyone heading for a later date wants some surprises, so for those individuals: you’ll have a great time, and don’t worry about there being any duffers as there aren’t any. For the rest of you…

Bowling For Soup (c) Jack Barker

We had a nice mix of old and new material, including three songs that haven’t been in the live show before. Recent release “Alexa Bliss” got its live debut and went down a storm, while older number “Smoothie King” was also a new number in the show (though does reckon they played in it Birmingham a decade ago!). Finally, the band’s cover of Blue October’s “HSRA” got a lot of love from the audience for its positive message, including some wonderful imagery on the screen behind the band.

Not Ur Girlfrenz got to make another appearance, we had the obligatory photo shot, and there was the usual between-song banter. I’ve seen a couple of comments online about there being too much of the latter (and did hear at least one shout of “play another song!” at the venue), but this is what makes a BFS show a show, not just a band reeling off the material. True, not all of the jokes work – this is what happens when you ad lib – but it’s still fun! Rob did a great job, too. I’ve never seen him as a de facto full member of the band before now, and he definitely seemed more “at one” with them than he did as a stand-in. Cracking wise, his jokes were every bit as bad as Erik’s. Somehow this is a good thing.

We were also gifted with the usual streamers, fireworks and huge pillars of stage smoke to add to the party atmosphere and the ninety minute set passed all too quickly. For a band that almost quit a few years ago, they’ve really got themselves back on the rails again and I for one couldn’t be happier. Long may they continue!

Photos by Jack Barker (Manchester show and yes, I did deliberately pick photos of all the drummers!)

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