Live Review: The Wonder Years, O2 Academy Islington

Editor's Review
  • Live Reviw


The Wonder Years play two unique sets in London, for a real night to remember

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“Welcome to Night Two, Set One!” exclaims Dan Campbell, affectionately know as ‘Soupy’, as he and the rest of The Wonder Years take their stools and acoustic instruments for the first of the night’s performances.

The night was already set to be one for the books, with two back to back sold out shows in the classic venue of the Islington Academy, on the very first dates of the ‘Sister Cities’ Tour. But, hours before the second night into their stay at the venue, the band announced via social media that they’ll play two sets to accommodate for the unexpected loss of one of their support acts: one acoustic and one electric. The excitement and anticipation is palpable from the crowd of honouring fans for this unique set up. It’s in this setting The Wonder Years take the opportunity to thrill their audience.

Though the band are best known for putting on a hardcore performance, The Wonder Years come across as so comfortable in this stripped back setting, as they play through songs from their ‘Burst and Decay’ EP they released last year. It translates into the crowd singing back every word. Centred in everything, is Campbell himself who, at the very least, seems focused on the task at hand for the acoustic side of things. Maybe it’s just the nature of an acoustic set, but he gradually comes out of himself as the performance goes on. In this minimal, stripped back setting, the show feels as special you would expect it to be

Fifteen minutes of change-over time later, and set Number Two kicks in. The contrast between the two performances is so stark, that Campbell is almost unrecognisable from one to the other in energy. He takes on his trademark verve on stage, with spinning and frenzy-like behaviour. Their latest album is barely a week old at this point, but the singalongs are just as vivid as if it was one of their classics,  as they open with the inevitable anthem ‘Pyramids of Salt’. The Wonder Years are probably best known for the emotion delivery in their songs, but it’s clear to see how the lyrics resonate within the crowd themselves, as most are singing out the words with an intensity to match Campbell.

As the set closes with an encore performance of ‘Passing Through a Screen Door’ and ‘Cigarettes & Saints’, neither the crowd nor the band can contain their energy for these modern classics; it’s a world away from that stripped back start to the set. The Wonder Years have always known how to put on a good concert. But there’s no doubt this is a show no one here will soon forget


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