Gig Review: Mayday Parade / As It Is / Real Friends – Ritz, Manchester (7th June 2022)

Nothing says “COVID messed up our tour plans” quiet like an 11th Anniversary album tour, however Mayday Parade are finally her in the UK celebrating what should have been the 10th anniversary of their self-titled third studio album with their friends As It Is and Real Friends.

Real Friends (c) Jack Barker

First to take to the stage where Real Friends with relatively new vocalist Cody Muraro. With a cry of “Make some noise, let’s have some fun”, Muraro bounced onto the stage and dived straight into their first track “Me First” from the band’s latest album Composure. Throughout the set Muraro encouraged the crowd to show as much energy as himself, however at times he seemed to struggle for room with the band’s backdrop being so close to the front of the stage.

It wasn’t until the midway point in the set when Kyle Fasel on bass first addressed the audience, asking “Are we awake tonight?” and saying “If you want to mosh, now is your chance” prior to beginning to play “Nervous Wreck”. Before the next song, “Late Nights In My Car”, Muraro again attempted to liven up the crowd by asking for a circle pit. While there was some shuffling around in the centre of the room a pit never really formed, perhaps it was still a little too early for this. However we did see the first crowd surfer of the evening during this track.

Saving the best till last the band ended with crowd pleaser “From The Outside” which saw more of the audience bouncing with their arms in the air for the duration.

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Having seen As It Is for the first time at Nova Rock Festival in 2019 and again at Slam Dunk Festival last September, we were really looking forward to their set. From a quick walk around the venue between the band it seemed we weren’t the only fans on the band in the room, as As It Is t-shirts outnumbered Mayday Parade t-shirts by at least 2 to 1 at this point in the evening.

As It Is (c) Jack Barker

As soon as Patty Walters took to the stage the whole venue screamed and the band kicked in with the intro to “Wounded World”. Throughout the song Walters showed why he still uses a cabled microphone, swinging it around by the wire and even wrapping it around his neck. The crowd were so busy bouncing along that many probably missed that guitarist Ronnie Ish was having some technical difficulties, stood at the back of the stage while this was rectified by his guitar tech.

“Hey Rachel” was up next which was watched by Mayday Parade’s vocalist Derek Sanders from the balcony. Walters then took the time to ask who had/hadn’t seen the band before welcoming the newcomers to the family. He also stated that he “…knew tonight would be good when there was a mosh pit on the first song”, before playing four new tracks back to back: “IDGAF”, “I Lie To Me”, “In Threes” and “I Miss 2003” from the band’s 2022 album I Went to Hell and Back, which proved popular with the younger members of the audience.

Prior to “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)” Walters took a moment to talk about his own mental health issues during the pandemic and how much of an effect not being able to tour has had on him personally. He went on to say that he will never take being back on the road for granted, stating “This is home, this is family” before playing the highly emotive track. Ending with “Dial Tones” was a popular choice and the comment of “We’ve been As It Is” just before the band left the stage led to a huge cheer.

Despite being a support act for tonight’s show, I get the feeling that if As It Is were to return to the O2 Ritz on their own tour most of tonight’s audience would be back to see them.

Worryingly the venue seemed to be half empty in the minutes after As It Is left the stage, with a lot of people heading towards the main entrance. This made us question if some people had just come to see the support band, however they soon returned, and we figured out that the toilets are in the same direction! The Elder Emos (as TikTok has not so politely named us) clearly need an interval at gigs these days.

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While an album anniversary tour gives attendees a chance to relive a classic album, it does also bring some slight predictability to the setlist. Tonight’s gig was no exception. The formula was simple: show off the now almost 11-year-old album from first track “Oh Well, Oh Well” right through to the finalé “Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven’t Ended Yet”. With the band taking to the stage, it was clear that they were dressed to impress with lead vocalist Derek Sanders wearing a crisp white shirt and guitarist Brooks Betts wearing a full suit. Sanders only took a break from bouncing around the stage between the first and second track to say “Manchester, thank you so much”, a clear sign of respect that the audience were matching his level of energy.

During the second track “No Heroes Allowed”, there were some impressive backing vocals from both Jeremy Lenzo on the bass guitar and Jake Bundrick on drums. Throughout “When You See My Friends” Sanders was clearly enjoying interacting with the crowd, stating that “I’ve been looking forward to this show the most” and that “Every time we come here it’s one of the best nights on the tour”.

Mayday Parade (c) Jack Barker

The end of the track took a more sombre note with Sander asking that “If you feel like you have lost something or someone over the last two years, light up your phone” and then sang the last chorus of the track without instruments and only the lights from the audience. With Sanders now holding an acoustic guitar he sang the words “She’s got broken things where her heart should be” which was instantly recognisable as “You’re Dead Wrong”. This and “Stay” a couple of songs later were clearly crowd favourites from the band’s 2011 self-titled album, judging by the number of phones in the air filming.

During “Stay” Sander joked that “You guys like songs of the slow, sad, emo variety – I do too” which must be a perfect description of the main style of songs the band writes. After “Call Me Hopeless, Not Romantic” Sanders asked, “So what’s the plan? Are we all going to Satan’s Hollow after this?” making a comment how the emo nights at clubs in the UK have been around for years but have only just started becoming popular in the US.

As someone who is currently planning a wedding, I am on the lookout for emo songs to add to our wedding playlist. The next song “A Shot Across The Bow” with lines such as “I hate you more than you could know” and “I hope you fall into the ocean” is probably not a contender for that playlist! During “Everything’s An Illusion” a blow up microphone was thrown on stage, stopping the show for a second. Sanders took the time to sign the microphone and returning it to its owner.

With only three songs from the self-titled album left Sanders took a moment to share a personal message, similar to Walters in the previous set and mentioned how hard the past year or two has been and mentioned that he has been through some very traumatic stuff, but added that despite struggling “It gets better, it gets easier”. A message offering welcome light at the end of the tunnel which will hopefully help audience member going through their own mental health issues. With Sanders dedicating the final track of the album “Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven’t Ended Yet” to a group of particularly dedicated fans as the front whose energy hadn’t waivered all evening, the main set was over and the band left the stage.

After the briefest of breaks to bring a keyboard on stage, Sanders and the band returned to preform “Kids of Summer” from the band’s latest studio album What It Means to Fall Apart. Arguably the band’s three biggest hits had been saved until last, with the another one of the signature slow sad songs “Miserable At Best” next. During the song Sanders was joined on stage by his good friend Jake who helped out on the drums and the backing vocals – although help probably wasn’t required as the audience sang along to every word of this emo ballad.

The tempo and volume were cranked up for the final two songs “Jersey” and “Jamie All Over”. It was clear that the crowd had been waiting for these two anthems and bounced along throughout both songs with several crowd surfers and people on other people’s shoulders spotted throughout the room. With a quick “We’re Mayday Parade, we love you!” the 11th anniversary tour had come to an end.

The question is, will there be another 10-year anniversary tour next year for the Monsters In The Closet album?

Photos by Jack Barker

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