It’s Valentine’s day and over 3,000 people have opted to spend the evening packed tightly into the sold out show at Birmingham’s O2 Academy. The five-piece Florida natives, A Day To Remember, have three support bands on the bill tonight; The Story So Far, Every Time I Die, and the somewhat off-kilter choice of Mallory Knox (who seem to go down a storm with the crowd). But it’s a long wait for the main act, and by the time the lights dim, the crowd is simmering impatiently with anticipation.
A Day To Remember’s stage isn’t kitted out quite to what they’ve been used to. Having toured the US with a backdrop consisting of an almost-to-scale suburban house – designed for their fittingly titled House Party Tour, we’re unfortunately not treated to such wonders – presumably due to space. But this doesn’t stop ADTR from treating this smaller capacity show to the same standards of showmanship. Pulling out all the stops, we’re gifted an arena-style show with the perks of relative intimacy.
They kick off with crowd pleaser All I Want, shooting multi-coloured confetti into the air and showering the crowd. Frontman Jeremy McKinnon works the stage as incredibly as he works his audience. He is attentive, in tune, and demands your attention in the best kind of way. His relationship with the sea of people in front of him is electrifying, and you can tell this is a two-way thing by the way the band are visibly loving every second of it.
And who is to blame them? After a lengthy legal battle against their record label to self-release their album Common Courtesy, the story could have been entirely different had the court not ruled in their favour. The band are clearly proud of their efforts and thoroughly pumped to be playing those songs live to a crowd who are singing along to Right Back At It Again and The Document Speaks For Itself with just as much raw emotion as Jeremy is projecting himself.
After a bouncy sing-along to the anthemic City Of Ocala, the band scale it down to perform two acoustic songs; You Had Me At Hello and crowd favourite If It Means A Lot To You. Jeremy’s vocals really shine during these acoustic numbers, and you’re almost transported to a whole different show. From aggressive and loud, to slow and melodic.
But before we we even have chance to soak up the slowed down vibes, we’re thrust straight back into the main event. It’s Complicated is clearly a popular choice with the fans, and it’s made even more exciting by Jeremy rolling himself out on top of the crowd in a giant transparent ball. The pure novelty of it all causes a shift in atmosphere, and it’s difficult to tell who is having more fun – the crowd or the band.
A few solid songs later, including a goose bump inducing sing-along to Have Faith In Me, we reach the encore on a high with The Plot To Bomb The Panhandle – the perfect song to end a set with. But of course, it isn’t over. The encore consists of three more, ending with The Downfall Of Us All, fully equipped with the obligatory beach balls (and a rogue umbrella) mimicking the bands video. It rounds off on a high, with multi-coloured streamers raining over the crowd who – for lack of a better phrase – are going absolutely nuts.
It’s easy to pass A Day To Remember off as a middle of the road kind of band, not quite slotting into either of the pop-punk or hardcore spectrums comfortably. But if there’s one way to solidify them as a band worthy as a front-runner in both of these sub-genres – it’s to see them live. If you want to see a band who brings it all; hard, fast and incredibly fun, then A Day To Remember should be your first port of call.