Bowling for Soup at Southampton Guildhall (18/10/11)

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Bowling for Soup are one of those bands with an infectious spirit. From the moment they walked onstage, their mission was to ensure that every member of the audience left with a massive smile plastered across their face. Opening with the song ‘I’m Gay’, they started the way they meant to go on — acting silly, and generally just having a load of fun. Following this up with ‘High School Never Ends’ served as a reminder of their ability to pen insanely catchy melodies and hooks that get stuck in your brain.

Just a couple of songs into the set, the band invite four members of the audience up onto the stage to sit at a makeshift bar and share drinks with them while the gig continues. Songs were interspersed with plenty of silly banter between the band members, who even found time for an impromptu jam for their drummer called ‘Gary, Will You Suck My Balls’. Their banter wasn’t just limited to the moments between songs, either; a number of times they stopped in the middle of songs to chat to the crowd, launching straight back in at the drop of hat — an impressive feat to manage without the band members exchanging a single look. Breaking up songs like this could be seen as a negative thing, but it was done with such professionalism that the crowd didn’t care one bit.

The inclusion of a couple of covers in their setlist really helped liven things up even further. ‘Stacy’s Mom’ by Fountains of Wayne was of course a massive crowd-pleaser, not being a million miles from Bowling for Soup’s own sound; and later the pre-encore cover of Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer of ’69’ was given their happy-chappy treatment, much to the audience’s delight.

After a pleasantly short stage walk-off, the band came back and immediately started with the onstage banter again, with singer Jaret Reddick telling the crowd to give bassist Erik Chandler the finger if they hadn’t played their song ‘Emily’, which they seemed to have forgotten to play earlier on in the set. Finishing up with ‘The Girl All the Bad Guys Want’ (undoubtedly their biggest hit) led to by far the biggest singalong of the night, the band leaving the stage on a high note before the Guildhall’s punters poured out into the cold night with big toothy grins. A job well done.

Rating: 8/10

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