Rock City, Nottingham on Sun 4th Feb 2007

A punky friend of mine informs me there’s a whole lot of history behind +44 that’s more political than it has any right to be.

Formed from the ashes of Blink 182 and Transplants, the story goes something a little like this: Mark, Travis and Tom were pop-punk troublemakers Blink 182 for a very long time. Before they recorded their final eponymous album together, Tom went off and formed a new band; Boxcar Racer with Travis, and left Mark out. Aww, poor Mark.

Boxcar Racer flopped, Blink 182 did their final album, but things weren’t the same. Tom grew too big for his pop-punk boots, so broke away and formed Angels & Airwaves (are you still following?). Travis and Mark were very pissed off at all this mucking about, so put Blink 182 on infinite hiatus and formed +44. Phew, glad we got through all of that. Oh, and Travis isn’t here tonight, he’s ill.

So that’s the drama out of the way which, really, is probably the most interesting thing about the band. Largely unremarkable they may be, but Rock City is absolutely rammed for the bastards, every young punk in the East Midlands has crept out of the woodwork for it. So keen are the crowd, that when femme-rock three-piece The Tommys play their support slot, the atmosphere’s a lot like that of the headliners. If only the indie kids were as up for it, it’d make all the gigs over at Rescue Rooms a whole lot more exciting.

Opening with ‘Lycanthrope’, the crowd sing back every syllable with sycophantic gusto. The band are polished and direct, but have a more serious edge to them to the Blink 182 days that came before them. They look a little too grown up now to pull of the skater look of yore, but Mark’s constant face-gurning for the amusement of his audience hints that behind all the (really rather weak) inter-band trauma, he’s still got a silly sense of humour.

There’s a few subtler numbers like 'Baby Come On' that gets teenage couples all ‘romantic’, swapping spit and getting hooked on each other’s lip piercings. Meanwhile, ‘When Your Heart Stops Beating’ lays down a slab of no-nonsense, as you like it guitar pop, that inspires a huge circle pit in the crowd – the surefire sign of crowd enjoyment.

The show is faultless but ultimately unremarkable; fun but unoriginal. The crowd here are young, they’ll grow out of it soon enough. Was it really worth all the drama that created it? Probably not.

article by: Alex Hoban

published: 06/02/2007 18:15


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