Promising young act Sweet Little Machine (Gallery: Sweet Little Machine) led off the evening’s entertainment with energetic fun pop punk songs that put the crowd into a good mood and got the first fans dancing along. The four-piece from Sheffield were presented with the fantastic opportunity to open for the legends of skate-punk on four dates of their current tour, which they grabbed with both hands and took full advantage off, rocking the socks of a full O2 Ritz in Manchester.
Playing to an appreciative crowd, Sweet Little Machine’s contagious high energy and stage presence, quickly jumped over to the audience, who got into their tunes from the first riff. The poppy-upbeat punk rock vibes, reminiscent of Pennywise, were met with generous applause and provided a perfect backdrop to what was to come. Sweet Little Machine performed a repertoire of engaging and heartfelt songs and are surely ones to watch for the future.
Following on from where Sweet Little Machine had left off, the lovable bandits of Masked Intruder (Gallery: Masked Intruder) entertained with their own irresistible brand of pop skate punk. Making sure that the crowd did not get a moment’s respite from the galloping riffs and pouncing bass runs, the band’s bad cop decided to jump into the crowd during their third song to start a moshpit, which kept going for the rest of their set.
During their 40-minutes, Masked Intruder kept the intensity of their set going to the delight of the crowd, who were clearly infected by the positive and honest energy coming from the band. Before the set was over, the bad cop stripped down to what turned out to be a rather revealing wrestling outfit, before stripping down to his briefs and slapping his own arse to get the crowd clapping along to the final song.
Masked Intruder’s music is solid and grounded enough to hold it’s own, but the theatrical additions certainly added levity and fun to their performance. These guys are well worth seeing on their own where they can perform a longer set.
With the fantastic support acts over, it was time for the legends of skate punk and punk rock to take to the stage to perform mainly covers, actually all covers. With Bad Religion having been the soundtrack of my misspent youth, It was a great delight to see the band’s bassist Jay Bentley playing with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. There are very few bands, actually none that I can immediately think of, that can get even die-hard punks with their Mohican haircut and Exploited leather jackets singing along to R. Kelly’s I believe I can fly at the top of their voices.
Starting the set with their customary rendition of Gershwin’s Summertime, it was evident that the audience was witnessing five very accomplished musicians having a whale of a time on stage. Comprised of members from legendary bands such as Lagwagon, Foo Fighters, Swingin’ Utters and Bad Religion, the Gimmes truly are a superband of the highest calibre.
Even though the five musicians primarily play with other bands, there was an effortless synergy and harmony between band members. Being at the top of their games, each of them added their own energy to the performance, which combined the best bits of the aforementioned bands. The evening was filled with skate punk and punk rock covers of well known country and pop songs mixed with a healthy dose of on stage antics, fun, and lots of good banter. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
My highlight of the evening was seeing a pulsating crowd of music fans jumping around and singing along to Dolly Parton’s Jolene, which was played at breakneck speed and performed in under two minutes or faster than ‘kissing cousins’ as lead singer Spike Slawson put it. In conclusion, you have not ‘seen everything’ until you have witnessed a big moshpit of young and old punks rocking out to John Denver performed at 140 beats per minute. Do yourself a favour and go see the Gimmes when you get a chance, sing along, dance, and have a hell of a good time.