Reel Big Fish: The Ritz, Manchester

Reel Big Fish were touring with Magnus Puto and exuberant ska-pop showmen Suburban Legends. The support were a little too happy and enthusiastic for my taste and their ska version of Disney’s ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ from the Lion King was a step too far into the cheese for me. However, I can’t fault their entertaining stage antics and brass section choreography. The Californian sextet consisted of stand in drummer Ryland Steen from Reel Big Fish, giving a good rhythmical backbone. The crowd responded well to the band’s energy, and were a good warm up act, successfully pumping the young crowd before the main show. Their songs were uplifting and vibrant and during their song “High 5”, I have to admit to cracking a smile.

Reel Big Fish made an impressive entrance to the Superman theme tune and seemed to possess a certain swagger, confidence and cool, which their less experienced support acts lacked. They opened with “Everyone Else Is an Asshole”, track one from their most recent album “Candy Coated Fury”, which is their first offering since 2009. The musical quality of the songs remains true to their Ska pop legacy, but the depth of content remains fairly inane, with songs like “Your Girlfriend Sucks”. But hey, Reel Big Fish are not the kind of band that take themselves too seriously and nor are the fans.

The young and lively crowd made my 30 year old carcass feel a bit dated and I chose cowering in the shadows instead of entering the throng of nubile, rainbow haired, ska dancing teenagers. Hanging back, allowed me to appreciate the music, which cannot be faulted, but I couldn’t help feeling a little bored by the same songs about hot girlfriends, ugly girlfriends, lesbian girlfriends and ex-girlfriends. There were some special moments, such as a trombone vs guitar battle, the trombone version of the star wars theme tune was epic and their pre-encore closer “Beer” is a classic. Their finale cover song, “Don’t you want me baby” was a pleasure, but I’m slightly biassed in favouring the version of underground Manchester ska-brass-ensemble Riot Jazz.

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