Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Four Year Strong

It’s a freezing evening in Portsmouth and last year’s headliners for Hevy Festival, Four Year Strong are here for the penultimate date of the UK section of their European Tour. Along with American pop punkers, A Loss For Words and Bedford Brawlers, Don Broco, there was no surprise when a packed venue raised a high level of excitement amongst the crowd. The date was originally at the Pyramids, a much larger venue than the Wedgewood Rooms, but to be fair, I always prefer seeing bands of Four Year Strong’s calibre in smaller venues anyway.

Don Broco

Opening up things are Don Broco, who have clearly stepped things up a mark since I saw them smash their set at Reading Festival last Summer. As soon as I hear the chaotic opening riff of opener “Top of the World”, I am excited. They sound HUGE. It’s almost as if they’ve stuck on their latest EP due to the level of tightness in their set and sublime qualities of their vocal work from confident front man, Rob Damiani and drummer, Matt Donnelly. Tracks from their latest EP such as ‘Beautiful Morning and “Dreamboy” shine out as favourites, with inevitable sing alongs to seal the deal. Even new track “Fancy Dress” saw a keen response from the crowd, with the traditional “Broco wall of death” taking the place of usual fan favourite “Thug Workout”. There is killer potential for these boys and I’m still buzzing after seeing just how strong they came across, even as openers. Their debut album is set for release this summer, so who knows; maybe they’ll be headlining this venue soon enough.

A Loss For Words

With Don Broco coming across as a hard act to follow, A Loss For Words act as if they’ve done it all before and explode into their set like a pop punk firecracker. Front man, Matt Arsenault flings around the stage with energy literally dripping from his face and hits every note in an eccentric fashion. My personal highlight of their set was ‘Pirouette’ from their latest album, ‘No Sanctuary’ which just hits that feel good fragment that pop punk can offer to those who love it. There’s no over exaggerated American cheese to this band, it is just genuine pop punk anthems delivered one after the other, with a fluid rhythm section and bright guitar riffs accompanying Arsenault’s flawless vocal display. A notable cover of the Motown classic ‘Want You Back’ by The Jackson Five sees a massive sing along and an injection of passion into the more valiant followers of the band. There’s morales and equality in their songs, as well as raw energy, which means that A Loss For Words have truly earned their growing status in the UK.

Four Year Strong

It’s the moment the entire venue has been waiting for, luckily due to the high calibre of the support acts, it hasn’t felt like I’d been waiting long. Nonetheless, Four Year Strong enter to huge screams and applause as they burst into opener ‘What the Hell is a Gigawatt?’ and unleashes the instant chaos brought by the crowd. This band doesn’t mess around and it’s instantly apparent that their stage presence and ability as a band is second to none. The flawless vocal work of Dan O’Connor and Alan Day seems impossible as they hit every harmony with exact precision, yet sharply enable themselves to growl at their enthusiastic fan base. Early numbers such as “Stuck In The Middle” and “Tonight We Feel Alive (On a Saturday)” sound even better than their recordings, with more aggression and every touch of class in the guitar and rhythm workings left intact, despite their animated stage presence. I could list every track as a stand out to be honest, simply due to the response from the crowd being just as energetic as the last. Obviously for any fan, it was “It Must Really Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now” that stole the show with its huge chorus and chaotic break down, but new track “Just Drive” seemed just as potent. An encore consisting of yet another fan favourite “Wasting Time” calls time on the final sing along and sends Four Year Strong away with every reason to take their last breaths to London in full swing before crossing the border. There is just no stopping this band from showing their explosive brilliance, so 2012 seems like a pretty sweet year to be Four Year Strong.

Set Lists
Four Year Strong
What the Hell is a Gigawatt?
Stuck in the Middle
Tonight We Feel Alive (On a Saturday)
Prepare to Be Digitally Manipulated
Heaven Wasn’t Built to Hold Me
Sweet Kerosene
Bada Bing! Wit’ a Pipe!
Enemy of the World
Maniac (R.O.D.)
Just Drive
It Must Really Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now
Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die
One Step at a Time
Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)

A Loss For Words
Honeymoon Eyes
Hold Your Breath
Raining Excuses
Where I’m From, You Die with Your Secrets
I Want You Back
Mount St. Joseph
Stamp of Approval

Don Broco
Top of the World
Do What We Do
Beautiful Morning
Fancy Dress


Words by George Fullerton
Photos by Mark Hayward

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