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Review: Simple Plan @ The Fortitude Music Hall (Brisbane)

Astronauts of all ages are spilling into The Fortitude Music Hall in Brisbane for the second sell-out show featuring pop-punk and emo nostalgia courtesy of Simple Plan.

Excitable chatter fills the air. If Mondayitis was ever an ailment for this crowd, a ticket to this show (15 April) is the cure.

Jax is the first support act onstage and gets a stacked audience from the get-go. Dressed in a white skivvy with her Dad’s New York Fire Department work shirt over the top and sporting some mean-looking white platform sneakers, she is letting loose.

Her set of pop-rock hooks and melodies is delivered with confidence alongside some pre-recorded backing tracks and Nash Overstreet (guitar) and Jess Bowen (drums) to help her out.

We are off to a raging start with many ’90s kids and their offspring singing along to her opener, ’90s Kids’. ‘The Clap’ has me giggling for my first time listening to the ‘If You’re Happy And You Know It’ swizz about the STD. Ok, I am late to the Jax phenomenon. To be honest, I just arrived.

Jax

Jax – image © Clea-marie Thorne

I hear “My boyfriend’s a dick. He drives his Dad’s Ferrari. He likes to mix Gatorade and Bacardi,” sung to the tune of Wheatus’ banger ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. The verse lyrics from Noelle’s perspective are a cack and we join in with a boisterous pop-punk sing-along.

Next is an unreleased song ‘The Girl Is A Snake’ that has us guessing some sneaky snider got caught out! ‘Adam Sandler’ is another fun pop-rocker.

Finishing with ‘Victoria’s Secret’ – about the monetising of body insecurities – is the quirky banger that got Jax viral on TikTok. The secret could be that “Victoria was made up by a dude,” whom we can gather is no Chris or Liam Hemsworth.

However, while Jax is on the front barrier with fans, a very young voice sings the final line into the mic that gives up the real secret: “She was never made for me and you.” Super cute!

We The Kings storm the stage with their signature blend of rock infused with pop-punk energy opening with ‘Skyway Avenue’, which ignites the excitement of the packed-out venue and follow it up with ‘She Takes Me High’.

Travis Clark (vocals, guitar) is encouraging punters to let loose as they’re filming the set and the crazy ones among us may be included in their new upcoming video.

Helping Clark stay in the good books with his children and wife back home, we are commanded to do a dance his kids invented for the song ‘I Feel Alive’. We squat then jump up and mimic wacky, arm-waving inflatable air dancers as violently and safely as possible. Participation is high; it’s so much fun it’s uplifting.

We The Kings

We The Kings – image © Clea-marie Thorne

We unite voices to sing the ‘Wonderwall’ cover – not a bad choir repping here tonight. Now encouraged to light up the venue, we diligently switch on our mobile phone lights holding them overhead as they play ‘Sad Song’. If you can’t have candles. . .

We The Kings have a never-ending, persistent live entertainment energy that is feeding fans and new ones. The WTK hype is real when Clark mentions they’re performing their own shindig tomorrow night – roars declare fans will be there for them!

Telling us the last song is not theirs but ours, the one fans have been frothing for, the crowd go nuts as they boogie their emo-punk butts off to the beloved classic and big-time banger ‘Check Yes, Juliet’.

After a stage changeover, the lights go dim for BOYS LIKE GIRLS. John Keefe (drums) and Jamel Hawke (guitar) swagger onto the stage with lit cigarettes. It’s been many years since this was a common sight – say ‘no’ to smoking the chemically loaded tobacky kiddos!

Boys Like Girls

BOYS LIKE GIRLS – image © Clea-marie Thorne

Gregory James (bass) and then Martin Johnson (vocals) join the rockstar party last. There is a fair bit of pleather/ leather garb up there and leopard print boots too. Hey, it is rock & roll time.

Meanwhile, it could be ‘Sunday At Foxwoods’ but thank the god it is Monday at The Fortitude Music Hall so we can get all hot and flustered with ‘Love Drunk’ and all before ‘Five Minutes To Midnight’.

Guitar picks are being flung left, right and centre, even reaching the balconies! Now I see why the mic stands are stacked with them. Everyone gets a prize tonight!

‘Blood And Sugar’ is up next followed by ‘She’s Got A Boyfriend Now’. Punters are treated to bangers spanning two decades including ‘Language’, ‘Heels Over Head’, ‘Thunder’, ‘Heart Heart Heartbreak’ and ‘Miracle’.

Boys Like Girls.2

BOYS LIKE GIRLS – image © Clea-marie Thorne

While an addict for live music and not a huge BLG fan, I am really digging BLG’s live vibe. They are bringing flavour and heavy sounds to their songs than the recorded versions. I’m backtracking, for sure.

A ‘Contagious’ excitement is spreading like wildfire through the venue as the never-ending pack of rocking delights keeps coming at us. ‘Hero/Heroine’ telling us how ‘Two Is Better Than One’.

I feel the end is near with many of their big bangers done and dusted. ‘The Outside’ is up next and yes, the frenetic fray is fuelled by their closing track ‘The Great Escape’ with an outro of ‘Love Drunk’ putting a nice bow-tie on their killer set. BLG have left us super hyped and primed for Simple Plan.

I last witnessed the live vibes of Simple Plan at Good Things Festival 2019, and after all this time taking the title of their opening banger ‘I’d Do Anything’ for another live SP experience (well, almost anything). Astronauts are showered in confetti at the end of this first song and the display heightens the mood.

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Simple Plan – image © Clea-marie Thorne

‘Shut Up!’ and ‘Jump’ quickly follow. We are then asked if we’re ready to party. Of course! ‘You Suck At Love’ comes before ‘Your Love Is A Lie’. Its catchy melody and livid tale elicits a rowdy sing-along from fans belting out with feels from the bottom of their hearts.

Jeff Stinco (guitar) shows off his chops to screaming fans and backs it as they move to more old-school SP tracks. Whether he is singing or engaging us with dialogue, Pierre Bouvier (vocals, guitar) has an aura you can feel anywhere in the venue. His stage presence remains that immense decades on, as does his voice.

Nostalgia creeps in hard when the sounds of ‘Addicted’ hit. Crushing banger, ‘Welcome To My Life’ smacks us full force awakening the musical memory banks as well as our feet.

The ’90s kids, the Gen Xers that didn’t grow up and younger generations that were force-fed whatever we ‘grown-ups’ listened to, excitedly devour the feels for whatever the history this songs brings.

With a grin like a Cheshire cat, Jax is joining SP onstage for their ‘Iconic’ duet. During the song, mini canons shoot out ribbons of streamers. A whole bunch catch on the chandelier and are left hanging like poorly strung decorations that adds to the party vibe.

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Simple Plan & Jax – image © Clea-marie Thorne

Reflecting on the weather back home, SP bring the summer feels to our party with giant beach balls emblazoned with the SP logo being flung out into the crowd. Naughty Bouvier lets us know he liked us playing with his balls. Ha!

While ‘Take My Hand’ kept us pumped, the fans get their namesake ballad ‘Astronaut’. The slackening pace doesn’t last long, the beats pick back up with ‘Million Pictures Of You’ then some more as we get back-to-back medleys that has Stinco up to the edge of the stage for his solos.

Two old SP bangers and a triple treat jumble of covers follow: Smash Mouth, Avril Lavigne and The Killers songs. We abuse our vocal cords even more. Just to outdo themselves, a pack of performers in Scooby Doo costumes are now running amok onstage during ‘What’s New Scooby Doo?’. The littlies in the crowd are bonkers for the spectacle! Band tees are being flung to lucky Astronauts in the crowd.

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Simple Plan – image © Clea-marie Thorne

We The Kings’ Clark gets in on the party action, joining SP onstage for ‘Where I Belong’. This collaboration is leaving us on a euphoric high. If this is the end of the night, no one will complain, BUT!

The Astronauts are not ready to come down and demand an encore. Our call is answered with the theme from Bluey. ‘Jet Lag’ gets the real encore started and the house is again pumping with cheers, song and leg kicks on the dance floor.

Our dance moves are helped along with another medley: ‘Crazy’, ‘Perfect World’, ‘Save You’ and ‘This Song Saved My Life’. A nod to Aussie pub-rock icons The Angels sees us raising our middle fingers for ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’. In our best bogan voices, we scream our parts of the call and response. So bleatingly blokey.

‘I’m Just A Kid’ segues into an acoustic and very heartfelt ‘Untitled’. Beachballs make a resurgence and more blasts of CO2 and confetti canons end the night on ‘Perfect’ – such a cliché title track to choose but totally apt.

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Simple Plan – image © Clea-marie Thorne

SP didn’t just give us a massive 22-song set list, they gave us the SP experience and solidified in our hearts and minds that they still have the goods when it comes to live performances.

Comeau, Stinco and Sebastian Lefebvre (guitar, vocals) are impeccable musicians and the vocal harmonies go alright too. All of the band demonstrated relentless energy.

Bouvier remains the spark that ignites SP as a whole. His vocals are strong and the range of his voice adds depth, marrying the feels of the lyrics with the instrumentation. Oh, and any 44-year-old who can split jump well above head height gets a gold star for being ultra impressive.

More photos from the concert.

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