Having formed way back in 1994 in Texas, veteran punk-rockers Bowling For Soup will celebrate 20 years as a band next year. In this time they have released twelve studio albums and various live and compilation albums. They've toured relentlessly and have become an institution of the October UK touring scene. They have amassed a large dedicated fan base and established themselves as one of the most loved live bands around.
Time has finally caught up with Bowling For Soup however and with the pressures of endless touring taking its toll on the band they made an announcement. It was back in April this year that they broadcast the news that this year's annual UK trek would be their last. Billing it as their 'UK Farewell Tour' they promised an extended Bowling For Soup set list with songs not heard in sometime. It appears fans are desperate to wave goodbye to one of their favourites and a number of shows on this tour are already sold out, including their show at the UEA LCR in Norwich which I was lucky enough to catch.
The queue for the venue wrapped its way around the LCR quite some distance and following a chat with bassist Erik Chandler (which you can read in the interviews section) fans were still queuing some distance. As a result I missed the night's sole support act fellow Americans Patent Pending. Having been impressed by them in the past this was somewhat disappointing but was soon to be forgotten when the mighty Bowling For Soup took to the stage.
With the packed venue chanting their name bassist Chandler, drummer Gary Wiseman, guitarist Chris Burney and charismatic front man Jaret Reddick arrived onstage to a hero's welcome. As well as great songs, one thing you're guaranteed at a Bowling For Soup shindig is witty banter and the banter began even before the first note was struck. When a note was struck it was new track 'Critically Disdained' that opened the evening's proceedings.
The set list for this tour has been selected from across their entire career from major-label debut 'Let's Do It For Johnny!' to this year's Pledge Music funded 'Lunch. Drunk. Love.'. There is something for all fans old and new and there is no shortage of rock radio friendly hits such as second number 'Almost' and fan favourites like 'No Hablo Ingles' which followed.
A Bowling For Soup stage these days comes complete with a bar attended by roadies, Patent Pending and lucky audience members. Alcohol is a theme for Bowling For Soup as was demonstrated by the next two numbers 'Let's Go To The Pub' and 'Hooray For Beer'. Crowd interaction is key for the band and the banter continued light heartedly throughout their performance. One more serious moment took place when a brave young fan proposed onstage with help from the band and to the relief of everyone inside the venue she said yes!
As the band continued to mix banter and music we were treated to the likes of 'Emily', 'Since We Broke Up', 'Turbulence' and single 'High School Never Ends'. Bowling For Soup has produced a steady stream of pop punk anthems since their inception almost two decades ago and thankfully that stream is set to keep flowing. This may be their farewell tour but the band have made it clear that this is not the end. New material will still be coming our way along with the odd show.
This tour however does mark the end of their annual outings and the extended set list that was promised was duly delivered with 'Ohio (Come Back To Texas)', 'Right About Now', 'A Really Cool Dance Song', 'I Don't Wanna Rock' and 'My Wena' all receiving an airing. The band were then joined by some female audience members who got the opportunity to provide backing vocals on a couple of runs through cartoon theme song 'Today Is Gonna Be A Great Day (Phineas And Ferb)'.
The new album was well represented in the set list and well received by the crowd with the likes of 'Envy' getting positive reactions. Every tour Bowling For Soup run through in a fun cover to the delight of the crowd and in the past have given their take on the likes of The Ting Tings, Katy Perry and Fountains Of Wayne. This tour sees them revisit Fountains Of Wayne and their hit single 'Stacy's Mom'.
'The Last Rock Show' and 'Punk Rock 101' followed before Reddicks People On Vacation cohort Ryan Hamilton joined the band for People On Vacation track 'Prettiest Girl In The World'. Crowd interaction continued with Reddick flooding the stage with young girls from the crowd who hung about for the remainder of the main set which saw the band deliver 'My Hometown', 'Suckerpunch', 'When We Die', 'Shut-Up And Smile', 'Girl All The Bad Guys Want', 'Circle' and 'Friends O' Mine'.
As the sad realisation kicked in that this could be the last chance to catch this highly entertaining band live, the band returned for an encore determined to send their crowd home happy, something that they have been doing for around 13 years now every October. Next October will be a much sadder time without these guys but we can live in hope that this is just the first of many farewell tours ala The Rolling Stones.
The encore consisted of Britney Spears cover '...Baby One More Time' and the bands huge single '1985'. This was a fantastic way to say goodbye for now, with the band delivering on their promise for the biggest Bowling For Soup set ever. With the tour rolling on through October I highly recommend that you take this opportunity to catch this show, after all it might just be your last chance.