Pyro, confetti, fireworks and a giant inflatable dog’s head (his name is Blitz and the doberman is the star of the album cover for So Much (For) Stardust that was released earlier this year). Fall Out Boy brought their larger than life ‘So Much For (Tour) Dust’ to Hamburg’s Barclay’s Arena and spared no (production) cost to prove once again they are the ultimate entertainers in the pop-punk universe.
Launching their set with an explosive fiery display singer-guitarist Patrick Stump, bassist Pete Wentz, lead guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley open the set with their most recent hit single Love From The Other Side. The stage is beautifully framed by wooden decor and reminiscent of the works of Tim Burton on one hand, and of the fairy-talesque music video on the other hand, and undergoes many changes during the show. The red curtain which is drawn in preparation for a set change during Sugar, We’re Goin Down is very suitably a reference to their album cover for From Under The Cork Tree, and the way the stage production references album art and music videos throughout the show really ties this rock show together. Occasionally Wentz’ bass guitar spews fire, mirroring song lyrics for My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up) and The Phoenix perfectly.
While the band are more than routined performers – for the record, the Hella Mega Tour with Green Day and Weezer included exclusively stadium dates; it can’t really get bigger than that – I couldn’t help but be disappointed about the audience’s response – or rather lack thereof. Granted, many of those who grew up listening to Fall Out Boy – a band who can now look back at a career spanning over 20 years – are no longer screaming their lungs out at the sight of the band. But it does seem that many audience members would rather have stayed home and watched the gig on a live stream, or at least their motivation was limited to polite applause, some clapping along, and very timid singalongs.
Maybe this is just the price of growing up.
Speaking of which – Pete Wentz talks about his little son’s vivid imagination and the importance of play that we inevitably lose as we grow into adults. The band’s enjoyment with their playful side can be seen in their use of a Magic 8 Ball to decide on whether to call it a night (No!!!) or to play another song, and also in the reveal of the beautiful set piece making up a huge tree with gigantic tangled roots. The artfully lit stage now projects pure magic as the arena is dipped into blue and purple lights, the sounds of wood cracking, dogs echoing, clocks turning, fairies chiming and owls howling floats through the space. The moment Fall Out Boy start playing Fake Out off of their latest record is by far the most magical moment of the night. The crowd finally pulls their weight by lighting up the arena with orange hues and is hopefully as enchanted as I am while the moon smiles a crooked smile from the round VFX panel.
Again, due to the crowd’s inhibited response to Wentz’ and Stump’s stage banter, it’s borderline awkward for the band but by no means because they lack charm or opportunities for engagement. While the rest of the band leave the stage, Stump says he usually leaves the talking to Wentz and that foreign languages aren’t his forté, mentioning that once in an attempt to impress the locals on a TV show in Japan he said his favorite food was ‘shoes’. Despite this Patrick Stump remains an amazing showman who can easily command a crowd by himself. His vocal abilities are more than fit for an arena of this size and paired with his solo piano medley, I can’t help but be just a tiny bit reminded of Sir Elton John for a glimpse of a second. The band joins in again for So Much (For) Stardust where Stump sings his heart out while on the piano, Wentz gets up onto the piano and even Andy Hurley joins in on backing vocals to elevate the chants at the end of the song. A perfect moment for crowd engagement and singalongs, but again Hamburg prefers to watch in silence.
Wentz pulls out a bunch of magic tricks as he disappears and reappears at various different locations on stage and in the middle of the crowd, much to the delight of those who didn’t score a front row spot. The band show their range with the Metallica cover Enter Sandman and they embody the heavy metal spirit credibly. The crowd does come alive for the huge hits like This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race and Thnks fr the Mmrs and the very danceable Hold Me Like A Grudge also shakes the audience awake. The show closer Saturday is a celebration of their roots and history as a band with Wentz swapping his bass for screaming and growling backing vocals – they way they did in 2003.
Fall Out Boy have rightfully claimed and defended their place at the very top of the emo and pop-punk scene over time. The So Much For (Tour) Dust tour has further propelled them up the ladder of rock stardom and their touring crew has absolutely outdone themselves with regards to production and overall entertainment value. The Hamburg date is in the books and I for one am filled with awe and adoration for this iconic emo band who has influenced the subgenre in so many ways. May their fans rediscover their playful, passionate side when they come back to Hamburg in the future.
Photos by Sophie Dobschall.