The UK leg of their Above The Noise tour reached Wembley on 1st April (originally scheduled to be the final date until other events necessitated the rescheduling of the first couple of dates), and also reached the computers, iPhones and iPads of many other McFly fans across the UK and around the world as this one was streamed live both via SuperCity to the Pioneers, and via the McFly iPhone app (gigs streamed live to your phone, is this a glimpse of the future to come, or just a short-term money-making exercise? Could watching a gig on a phone or pad be a suitable experience? I mean, it’s one thing to settle for a DVD/BluRay on a nice big TV with good quality, ideally 5:1, sound, but on a small screen on an iPhone or even iPad, with basic quality sound? Who knows, perhaps that is enough for the throwaway want-it-now society? I’m not convinced personally, but then I’m probably not the target demographic for such things).
I got early access tickets (being a fan club member pays off!), and had a choice of standing or seated tickets (long story, ended up with two of each). I decided this time to go for seated, especially as I had a very good position very close to the stage and looking right down at it (as you can see from the photos). Looking at the scrum in the standing area, I think I made the right choice! It looked very hot, very packed and very uncomfortable there; and we were actually closer to the stage technically! Hearing later from a friend who was int eh standing area that her friend fainted and had to go home after the first couple of songs reinforced that view.
Anyway, enough of rambling on about the choice of seats, what was the show itself like?
They had the same 3 extra musicians as they had for the Before The Noise mini tour last year, namely Isaac Aryee on keyboards, and Stephanie Meade & Rachael McKenzie on backing vocals, bringing the band up to a 7-piece. The stage itself was fairly plain, but the main focus was very much on a fantastic lighting show with not only the usual strobes, lights, spots and so on, but also an interesting light-mat across the main stage floor; this light up in various patterns throughout the show, as some of the photos just about capture. It all looked visually stunning (helped with the pyrotechnics and the flames, of course).
There was no obvious sign this time of a B stage, unlike previous arena tours, although there was a strange looking set of lighting rig which extended out above the audience. No, not a lighting rig, for just after Smile (of which more in a moment) this descended to hover above the standing crowd and linked to the stage via steps, with Tom, Dougie and Danny walking out to perform Star Girl and 5 Colours above the audience’s heads. Pretty cool! Those songs performed, they then launched a few T-shirts into the crowd via rather large t-shirt-shooting guns. Well, most did, poor Danny’s gun didn’t work so he resorted to simply throwing his shirts. All this while Harry remained on stage providing backing drumming. So was Harry not going to get to launch some t-shirts? Well, yes he was – Tom returned to the stage, picked up some drum sticks, and played the same drum kit along side Harry, before taking over, enabling Harry to go launch some t-shirts of his own. Alas no T-shirts were fired in our direction, but hey ho! I’d already bought the obligatory tour T-shirt anyway along with the tour programme – this one containing a large fold-out poster of the 4 boys, made up of tiny photos of all the SuperCity Pioneers (I’ve yet to find mine in there, but there are over 10,000 photos to check; it’s worse than Where’s Wally!). The merchandise stand had the usual range, t-shorts, hats, keyrings etc, plus a large black&white photo of all 4 of the boys sitting down, backs to the camera but faces turned to face it. Nude. Quite.
Back to the show. Smile, I mentioned a moment ago. They brought on an 8th person to help with guitar and vocals for this one – introduced on stage after a pre-amble by Dougie by Tom with the words “Wembley this is my Dad, Dad this is Wembley”. Aww, bless him.
There is the inevitable question, how was Dougie? To be completely honest, he was pretty much the way Dougie has always been when I’ve seen McFly, manic as ever, although I did feel that his voice was not quite up to scratch when he was singing solo on Transylvania; he was tuneful,no problems there, just his voice sounded a little strained. Probably all that shouting earlier!
This tour’s cover was Tinie Tempah’s Pass Out. A song I’d never heard of before (I must be getting old!), and having listened to the official video for the original, I have to say I think McFly did a far better job of it!
Overall, as you might guess, I thoroughly enjoyed the show, the staging was bigger than ever and the setlist was a particularly good one this time round, and for a band which has been around for over 7 years already, they are still doing something right.
What was interesting was the reaction of my friend who came along when I unexpectedly had a last-minute spare seated ticket. He knew some of their stuff (I play it often enough), but had never really seen McFly live. While we were in the food area before hand, desperately trying to avoid the out-of-tune support act (sorry, but their singing was so far from in tune as to be painful), he was confidently predicting (based upon other acts he’s seen) that there would be much backing tracks and pre-recorded bits; after the show he admitted that he was impressed that it was pretty much all live, very impressed that the band actually played their own instruments, and has become a bit of a convert to McFly. That, I think, speaks volumes for the quality of the gig and says more about how good it was than I probably can (having seen them 7 times now it does get a bit harder to write something new about them).
Perhaps not the tightest they’ve ever played (by Tom’s own post-show admission), but one hell of a great show; the audience loved it, and the boys still very clearly love performing.
Setlist – Party Girl, Nowhere Left To Run, iF U C Kate, That’s The Truth, Transylvania, Lies, Corrupted, Fallen In Love, All About You / Obviously, I Need A Woman, End Of The World, Smile, Star Girl, 5 Colours In Her Hair, Pass Out, Last Song, One For The Radio, The Heart Never Lies, Shine A Light.