Neck Deep have a bucket-list mo­ment at the O2 Academy Brix­ton, shoot­ing straight to the top of the pop-punk pile



FRI­DAY THE 13 re­ally is un­lucky for some.thanks to a clas­sic bit of four-band bill mis­for­tune, the aptly named Woes get shunted onto the stage while ev­ery­one is still ne­go­ti­at­ing labyrinthine queues out­side. Neck Deep front­man Ben Bar­low even tries to help se­cu­rity get peo­ple in quickly, which is a nice touch af­ter the bust-up be­tween his band and bounc­ers at Not­ting­ham Rock City three days ago.all of which means it’s im­pos­si­ble to tell from the faint strands that leak onto the street whether the open­ers’ cover of Smash Mouth’s All Star is an in­spired party-starter or not.

In sim­i­larly self-dep­re­cat­ing, sad-lad style, Real Friends play their hearts out in front of a ban­ner that reads ‘Wow,what A Great Day’, and the enor­mous cheer that greets its re­veal raises ex­cite­ment lev­els a notch or nine.true to the spirit of the oc­ca­sion, they smartly avoid their more naval-gaz­ing in­stincts in favour of punch­i­ness, with front­man Dan Lambton keep­ing his Soupy-on-sta­biliser-wheels schtick to a min­i­mum.

Be­tween bands, anti-sui­cide char­ity Hope For The Day founder Jonny Boucher makes rous­ing speeches pro­mot­ing men­tal health with a charisma, en­thu­si­asm and en­ergy that gives his ad­di­tion to the show the air of a hype man with a mes­sage.

Like­wise,as It Is vo­cal­ist Pat­ty­wal­ters is the very def­i­ni­tion of hype as he high-kicks his way onto the stage. His band have ex­isted just as long as tonight’s head­lin­ers, yet theirs has been a more grad­ual rise. But when the whole room is bounc­ing with the Brighton pop-punks on Pretty Lit­tle Dis­tance and scream­ing its col­lec­tive lungs out on Dial Tones, it feels like a fine au­di­tion for do­ing some­thing this mam­moth them­selves some day.

Neck Deep don’t just play a blinder of a Brix­ton head­liner, though.they pull out ev­ery stop and trick, pac­ing things per­fectly with a mix of old and new songs to please all sec­tions of their fan­ the CO2 can­nons blast and fire bursts rise to­wards the roof with the words ‘When the world went up in flames’ on Happy Judge­ment Day, it’s hard to be­lieve this is the same scrappy bunch who got by on heart and ef­fort alone in the 200-ca­pac­ity Barfly just three years ago.they’ve grown into this role as rapidly as their fan­base has swelled, with Ben’s vo­cals now con­fi­dent, strong and up to the chal­lenge.

The con­stant sing-alongs and pogo­ing makes it feel like a shared cel­e­bra­tion, too, and when lasers beam onto the sea of fans dur­ing the heart-wrench­ing In Bloom, things eke into the realm of epic event.the two-song en­core of Can’t Kick Up The Roots and Where Do We Go When We Go, com­plete with con­fetti shower, only con­firms that – and as the springy beats of 2 Un­lim­ited’s nov­elty hit No Limit sends ev­ery­one home, it feels like a know­ing, twofin­gered ri­poste to any­one who has ever doubted the Wrex­ham five-piece. Be­cause Neck Deep didn’t just smash this per­sonal land­mark, they threw down a marker for a fear­less fu­ture that should know no bounds.

Ben looks con­cerned about bassist Fil’s sud­den growth spurt Clues as to who was head­lin­ing Brix­ton were thin on the ground As It Is singer Patty Wal­ters chan­nels MJ Matt West’s aud for a ZZ Top trib band was in the

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