Review: The Wonder Years step up at London’s KOKO

The Wonder Years present themselves as an force of sadness in London, joined by a stellar supporting line-up.

The Wonder Years’ pop-punk days are over. As they enter the stage to an echoing rendition of No Closer To Heaven, tonight’s setlist focussed predominantly on material from their most recent release and critical breakthrough The Greatest Generation. With a few exceptions, it’s a definitive affirmation of their brutally heartfelt sophistication.

Their ever-evolving stage show now matches the grandeur of their melodies. Frontman Dan Campbell delivers each word with his unique emotive force, often transfixed centre stage with his arms spread wide. The audience react with an equal outpouring, more often than not overpowering even Campbell’s mighty vocals. As has become a staple at any The Wonder Years’ show, tonight is audibly cathartic for both on-stage and off.

A particularly haunting chant of Brothers & proves equally rousing, and continues way into the following Cardinals. It represents the band’s vastly expanding reach, mirrored in the reaction to the beautifully delivered stripped back Madelyn.

The nods to their days gone by are altogether more riotous, not least as Trash Boat vocalist Tobi Duncan joins The Wonder Years on stage for their singular encore track, Came Out Swinging. It completes the circle started out by Campbell taking vocal duties on Trash Boat’s Strangers earlier this evening, as part of an incredibly solid supporting line-up.

Opening the evening, Tiny Moving Parts demonstrate both an homage to and a reinvention of stateside emo, driven by a relentless sense of fun. Main supports PUP deliver a masterclass in live music, more than just nipping at the heels of tonight’s headliners. What they all share is an expert ability to project even the most difficult moments, and that all are together as one. The greatest generation of music, indeed.

Check out the full photo gallery featuring The Wonder Years, PUP, Trash Boat and Tiny Moving Parts here.