Gig Review: Better Days @ Riverside Newcastle
Riverside Newcastle played host to Better Days’ third annual Christmas show, and we were lucky enough to attend...
With three support bands in tow, the excitement in the room was palpable from the moment the doors opened. Runners and Fox Catcher, two bands unfamiliar to me, and hotly tipped newcomers Amongst Echoes had all prepared sets big enough for the stage they played on.
Soon enough though, with the modest crowd suitably warmed up, 9pm hit and headliners Better Days graced the stage to a play-on of the Mariah Carey classic 'All I Want For Christmas', which was distorted and twisted into the perfect transition for their opening number.
It was evident from the moment they set foot on stage that the boys meant business, and the behind the scenes preparation that had gone into this show was undeniable from the word go.
That really is the word for it; this wasn’t a gig, it was a show, and the seemingly expensive production value really added to the level of professionalism that was displayed from the offset.
The showmanship of each member of Better Days is always seriously impressive to watch. With the energy levels unrelenting, both of the music and performance, I find it difficult to believe anyone would be able to resist getting involved.
Better Days played crowd favourites old and new, including the entirety of their most recent offering; the 'What You Did To Me' EP.
With each passing song they proved that pop punk (when done well) is so much more than power chords and blast beats, and arguably more importantly that pop punk is far from dead.
Structurally and sonically, these songs are the perfect blend of old school and new wave pop punk, obviously heavily influenced by the likes of Neck Deep, All Time Low and Mayday Parade, who frontman Graeme reminisced about sharing the very same stage with earlier in the year.
Impressively intricate guitar playing, paired with a concrete rhythm section and commendably powerful vocals all made for a blistering performance.
The technical difficulties that were experienced toward the beginning of their set were dealt with expertly and showed these lads as the seasoned professionals they are. Even more impressive was their ability to make light of the situation, joking that Riverside was a “cursed” venue for them and ensuring everyone was on side and captured by their charm.
After an exhilarating 45 minutes or so, their set started to come to a close, but not before their now yearly rendition of Wham’s 'Last Christmas' with a true Better Days spin on it.
They pushed it almost slightly too far in a comical direction, including every pop-punk stereotype, but their self awareness and obvious musical ability pulled it back to a rendition that really was just perfect for them.
The show closed with the long awaited 'Woe Be Gone', which really encompassed everything the band and the night had been about.
Better Days really are paving the way for the next generation of pop-punk fans, and watching it unfold first hand was quite special.
A perfect mix of nostalgia and originality, you can catch the guys on their next UK tour which hits Newcastle on January 19th.
Words and photography by Robyn Walker