NECK DEEP

PLUS: STATE CHAMPS, CREEPER, LIGHT YEARS O2 IN­STI­TUTE, BIRM­ING­HAM. 01.02.16 HOT­TER-THAN-THE-SUN WELSH POP-PUNK HE­ROES KICK OFF THEIR BIG­GEST UK TOUR IN GLO­RI­OUSLY CHAOTIC STYLE

Kerrang! (UK) - - Lives -

WORDS: PAUL TRAVERS

PHO­TOS: TOM MARTIN

IT’S BEEN a long time since the Buz­zcocks spliced pop melody and punk power into one glo­ri­ous sticky mass, but in the in­ter­ven­ing decades it’s been a for­mat ut­terly dom­i­nated by bands from across the pond. There have been some great Bri­tish bands, but never one who looked like smash­ing the com­mer­cial mo­nop­oly and re­ally break­ing big in the same way blink-182 or New Found Glory did. But how things change. With a Top 10 al­bum un­der their belts, Neck Deep are the UK’S most likely to, and as they em­bark on their big­gest head­lin­ing tour to date, it’s time for Wrex­ham’s finest to prove their met­tle.

First, though, the Neck sup­ports. Light Years might be do­ing bis­cuits wrong (“I love your Jammy Dodgers – I’m gonna stick some up my arse,” an­nounces singer Pat Kennedy, some­what bizarrely) but their take on pop-punk is spot-on. Creeper have el­e­ments of both pop and punk but they can’t be pinned down quite so eas­ily. There’s a touch of My Chem­i­cal Ro­mance to their goth-tinged in­fec­tious­ness, and if they feel like throw­ing in a bit of ’50s rock’n’roll or a big sta­dium-rock riff, they’re damn well go­ing to.

State Champs bring back the more ob­vi­ous, for­mu­laic bounce, but they do it supremely well. And as the crowd bounces along and sings back ev­ery word to the likes of Se­crets and Hard To Please, it feels al­most like a dou­ble-head­liner. At least un­til the ac­tual head­lin­ers come on. “We couldn’t set a lit­eral fire, but this is al­most as good,” says Neck Deep front­man Ben Bar­low. He’s re­fer­ring to their flame-themed car­toon back­drop, but it’s not just the stage set that’s on fire tonight. They start at a sprint, and as they lob out melody-bombs like the fran­tic Los­ing Teeth and Gold Steps, the place de­scends into sweat-slicked, good-na­tured chaos. The en­ergy on­stage is matched by the mad­ness on the floor, but it’s not just one vol­ley af­ter an­other. There’s a dy­namic feel to the set, as A Part Of Me, Ben’s solo acous­tic ren­di­tion of Head To The Ground and an elec­tri­fied but still re­strained De­cem­ber pro­vide a real sense of depth and sub­tlety.

Can’t Kick Up The Roots turns it back up for the fin­ish, chan­nelling small-town en­nui into a huge sing-along tri­umph and bring­ing things to a knee­trem­bling con­clu­sion. Wrex­ham? Tonight, Neck Deep damn near kill ’em.

Even dur­ing a gig, one mem­ber of Neck Deep still had time to moon­light as a cricket um­pire KKKKK = CLAS­SIC KKKK = EX­CEL­LENT KKK = GOOD KK = AV­ER­AGE K = POOR

Well, some­one’s travel iron didn’t make it to Birm­ing­ham… BEN BAR­LOW SO, HOW WAS THE FIRST NIGHT OF YOUR MAS­SIVE UK TOUR? “It was awe­some. It was sold out, which is al­ways good! There have been plenty of great mo­ments since we started the band, but with

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