Dominating the stage of the O2 Arena in London is a far cry from the basement that American pop-punk heartthrobs All Time Low began almost 13 years ago. And yet, its about time for a band who has been touring the UK and playing festivals for the better part of 7 years.
The energy in the room is palpable as the four-piece band from Baltimore, Maryland take to the stage with fan anthem Kids In The Dark, the second single off their sixth studio album, Future Hearts. Continuing into A Love Like War, it was a strong start that would somehow only get better.
“London I feel like dancing. Who feels like dancing with a fucking wolf tonight?” Alex Gaskarth queries before transitioning into another newer tune, Dancing With A Wolf. “I want to see your best dance moves” and so the crowd obliged, turning the pit into a giant dance party. Backseat Serenade followed, with band members jumping all over the stage. Accompanied by rainbow lighting, flames and even a few fireworks, this is a band who are not here just to play games; bringing out all the stops for their biggest headline show to date.
Lead singer Alex Gaskarth and guitarist Jack Barakat are full of crude jokes and silly interaction, with the latter declaring just four songs in, “I’m so out of breath, I need a vodka and a blow job!” Possibly not the most wholesome of bands to go see on a Thursday night, but if the laughter radiating from the audience is anything to go by, it works. It’s also nice to see that throwing bras on stage is still a thing, no matter how big a show gets.
“We wrote this song for England” Barakat announces before launching into festival favourite Lost In Stereo from their 2009 album Nothing Personal. The throwbacks continue with Poppin’ Champagne and Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t).
What follows is a trifecta of songs from their most recent album, which notably topped the UK album charts. Runaways, the album’s third single and the tender Tidal Waves go down beautifully, the former accompanied by its fair share of pyrotechnics. Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden then joined the stage for Bail Me Out, a song he co-wrote and shares vocals on. While not as energetic as the tunes before, the audience’s passion doesn’t falter for a moment as Madden and Gaskarth strut around the stage,
Gaskarth strips it back for spine-tingling tune Therapy, standing alone at the end of the runway with acoustic guitar in hand. “Shit I don’t have to do anything” the lead singer declares, as the audience starts singing the opening lines before he has the chance. His band mates re-join him on stage for another heartfelt tune, Missing You, after a passionate speech about addiction.
All Time Low are a punk-pop-rock band, and they’re remarkably good at it. Yet it is their more somber songs that are right at the core of what makes this band great. It is a feat to turn a place like the O2 arena into the most intimate of gigs. Not everybody can dim the lights down low and command a stage with just a voice and a guitar.
Returning for a 3 song encore of their most popular hits, Weightless, Something’s Gotta Give and Dear Maria, Count Me In, the band made sure to end of the highest of notes, with guitarist Jack Barakat getting up close and personal with the kids at the front of the barrier. Blonde wig and all. After a struggle to get back on the stage, the Maryland foursome took their final bow, to deafening screams. It is not the first time All Time Low have taken to the O2 Arena stage, selling out a co-headline tour with their British counterparts You Me At Six in 2015, and it sure won’t be the last.
Spilling secrets towards the end of the set, (note: herpes is not curable), Barakat announces that the band will be back on our shores soon enough, playing Download Festival this summer. “I wasn’t supposed it say it but I couldn’t help it!” All Time Low are all about breaking rules and it pays off sweetly. “Don’t put that on twitter.” Woops. See you in the summer boys.