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Billed alongside Mayday Parade, Pennsylvania six piece The Wonder Years brought their sixth studio album, Sister Cities, to London’s Troxy to round off a string of live dates across the UK.
Last year, Sister Cities – the follow-up to 2015’s No Closer To Heaven – followed suit with its predecessor to enter the top twenty on the stateside album chart, propelling them further to the forefront of their genre.
Their success is in part due to their reinvention of the pop-punk genre, having stepped away from the comparably upbeat sound of their early releases, and injected it with a heavy dose of introspected emotion.
Live, this evolution shines brightest. On a bill that celebrates the brightest in their scene, not least the enchanting pronoun and the intricate Movements, The Wonder Years engulf London’s Troxy in a heavy air.
Their set explores much of their catalogue, in the opening one-two both bursting into their latest album’s title-track, and harking back to 2011’s Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing – the record that arguably offered the first hint of musical shifts to come.
Famed for their honest depiction of strained emotions, it’s notably refreshing for a band born out of the often frivolous pop-punk scene to pack such an emotional punch. Come the disarming ballad Flowers Where Your Face Should Be, the Troxy crowd drops effortlessly into silence.
On stage, vocalist Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell embodies the power of the band’s sound and lyrics. His delivery is filled with as much pain as it is relief; at once moment he stands powerfully atop a monitor with the microphone stand in hand.
It’s as cathartic for the audience as it is for the band members, each expertly aware of the ebb and flow of their sound, and the mirroring live performance.
The set leads to a performance of closing number Came Out Swinging, a fitting end to a show that exposes the building blocks that have brought The Wonder Years to where they are now.
Unlike much of the set that has come before, the track carries a handful of the pop-punk tropes that The Wonder Years incorporated early on. Yet, as well as encouraging a huge singalong by the diehard fans in the audience, it serves to prove the band’s disregard for norms since their inception.
The message of Came Out Swinging stands strong. Whatever life throws your way, and whatever you feel, there’s always an escape and a release. Tonight, that release is an exceptionally powerful The Wonder Years show. And here’s to many more.
The Wonder Years have now completed their UK run, but keep an eye on Ticketmaster.co.uk to be one of the first to know when they’ll be back in on our shores.