It’s an eclectic crowd in Islington’s Assembly Hall - young and old(er) mix in a comfortable atmosphere, sharing the common thrill that they’re the lucky few to see an arena-worthy band in an intimate setting debuting new material. Kids adorn the barrier and front row of the balcony with Fall Out Boy shirts of years gone by and some have even put on war paint and wear the American flag decoration of new album ‘American Beauty / American Psycho’ like a badge of honour.
Being a one-off show, the staging is fairly minimal: a black banner draped across the back emblazoned with the logo of 2012’s ‘Save Rock and Roll’, along with a couple of risers across the front of the stage. Tonight isn’t about the aesthetic: it’s all about the songs.
Kicking off with ‘The Phoenix’, the crowd turn from relaxed individuals into a frenzied collective, jumping to the beat with such vigour the floor can be felt vibrating. The band are a member down tonight after the passing of guitarist Joe Trohman’s mother last weekend, leaving tech Josh Newton to fill his spot. While Joe is an exceptionally animated performer, who bounds across the stage wildly, the stillness of his replacement results in a static-feeling stage right. This isn’t helped when the set has a handful of anecdotes from bassist Pete Wentz mixed in, which, due to his tendency to mumble, are that bit lost on the majority of the audience.
Still, vocalist Patrick Stump manages to command the stage with flair through a versatile mix of tracks from their 2003 offering ‘Take This To Your Grave’ right through to new tracks like ‘Irresistible’. These new songs fit in relatively well but it’s pre-hiatus tracks like ‘This Ain’t A Scene’, ‘Sugar We’re Going Down’, the acclaimed first single ‘Grand Theft Autumn’ and even the iconic drum intro to ‘Dance Dance’ that really get the crowd going.
It’s not to say poppy tracks like ‘Alone Together’ and the catchy ‘Young Volcanoes’ don’t maintain the fervour, but the floor strains a little more the further they venture back through their discography.
That is until we reach new track ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’, which has the crowd whistling through from start to finish. The set rounds off with My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’ before an encore of recent single ‘Centuries’ – that has the crowd ‘do do do’-ing along to the clever sampling of Suzanne Vega’s ‘Tom’s Diner’ - ‘Thnx Fr Th Mmrs’ and fan favourite ‘Saturday’.
It may have actually been a wet and windy Wednesday night, but safe to say, the crowd left feeling as euphoric as if it were anything but.
Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett