All American Rejects & Matchbook Romance,
In a similar fashion to the bar, who prepared for tonight's crowd by topping up on lemonade supplies, the heart flashing melodic guitar utilising Matchbook Romance from Poughkeepsie, New York with their Funeral For A Friend hugging opener 'Surrender', begin to mould their set to fit in with the demands of a keen crowd. Drawing from their more emotive and faster paced, punk skirting range they strike a chord, well several (passionately), early on. Front man Andy Jordan has been quoted as saying "'We actually wanted to contribute to the evolution of music", well the added power given to punchy new numbers like 'Monsters' and the hard-hitting 'You Can Run, But Well Find You', from their second album 'Voices' indicates that they have grown musically and fattened out their sound, with the inclusion of some robust jams. However, the omission of the more longing and slower numbers like those displayed on debut album 'Stories And Alibis' and the 'West For Wishes EP', just limits the variety on offer a tad. Andy Jordan is honest and genuine between songs, just as the whole band is during them. The grateful reception given to them by the crowd shows that these quality are still held dear.
The Apollo is bouncing two thirds of the way back for pop-punk opener 'Dirty Little Secrets' from Oklahoma's All American Rejects, as singer Tyson Ritter draws together the impact of Pierre Bouvier (Simple Plan) and Jordan Pundik (New Found Glory). This does not mask the superficial nature of the song that lacks any real direction or focus. Things only get worse after this offering, as the sound then transforms to that akin to Busted with the amps turned up a little. 'Top of the World' is an attempt at a protest song, but has non of the anger, potency and overall integrity that you'd reasonably from this and other nettle grasping attempts. The slightly wistful and yearning emo/punk blaze of 'It All Ends Tonight', is an example of the band's ability to raise things up a level and they certainly stir the crowd up, as every word is thrown back at them with even more passion than the pint of water that hit Ritter early on. This is a transient high-point and given the fact that its not a school night, the 22;15 finish was a bit early and it means that All American Rejects barely strangled out a 60 minute set. There was a time if a band that had risen to the laudably lofty heights of an Apollo Theatre, headline slot and played for less than 90 minutes, you'd demand your shilling back!
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