Gig Review

Bristol, Trinity Centre
12th November 2013


The host of the Yellowcard Ocean Avenue 10th anniversary acoustic gig in Bristol would be The Trinity Centre. In my opinion it's somewhat of a shame given the significance of the show we were about to see. The acoustics at The Trinity Centre weren't the best when I saw Don Broco and Lower Than Atlantis play there in October 2012, however with the lower volume of an acoustic gig I was hoping there it would be ok. Upon arriving at the venue we were met with the same round the corner queue. After finally getting into the odd smelling venue and catching a bit of "Like Torches" it was time for one of my favourite bands to play one of my favourite albums.

As it was an album set the track list was no surprise, opening with "Way Away" and many long time fans singing along word for word thrown into a whirl of nostalgia, back at age 13 and 14 listening to Yellowcard in the Summer sun, relaxing with friends and enjoying the early teen years. With little on the stage but a few lights at the top and some older style lights where you could see the filament, in front of each member adding to the intimate feel of the set. Longineu W Parsons III's drums being pounded away at the back over the softer sounds of the acoustic guitars and Ryan Key's clean pop punk vocals, which haven't changed much over the years.

After the first track Key set down three ground rules for the set, "have the most fun you've ever had at a rock show", " Sing so much you can't speak the tomorrow" and the third was a "personal preference" to "See your eyes not the backs of phones for the entire set". Based on "Way Away" the 2nd was surely a given. The beautiful violin of Sean Mackin got a bit more of a part in the fantastic "Breathing".

Upon the mention of the words "ten years of Ocean Avenue" there was a massive applause. The show was pool of nostalgia with the bass of Josh Portman and Parson's drums dominating the airwaves with the flawless string trio all tired together with nigh on CD perfect vocals from Ryan managing to stay afloat above the crowds hefty and loving contribution.

I could easily fan boy all over the songs and talk about how amazing the sound was for each one individually and write pages of praise, because quite frankly there are three things a band be good at to prove how great they are. Firstly sound great on CD, secondly sound great live, which they did last time I saw them in Wales supporting All Time Low which was the wrong order in my opinion. Finally and most challenging of all however is sounding great live and acoustic, with little to hide behind, or drown out, and quite frankly they did sound incredible. Ocean Avenue as an album is no doubt a good one to turn into an acoustic with its softer sound and deep emotional lyrics, and they did a great job of it. "Empty Apartment" starting off with the with just Key, before Ryan Mendez guitar chimed in on the beautiful melody rounded off perfectly with the beautiful violin that makes Yellowcard so unique.

"Life of a Salesman" picked up the pace being the "quickest acoustic song we've ever played" in the words of the band. "Only One" was my one and only disappointment in the show, but only because a large part of me wanted Ryan to do it solo like the 2010 live from Las Vegas at the Palms version. Throughout the show Sean chimed in with some great backing melodies and "Twenty Three" was a chance for his outstanding set of pipes to take a fore front. With a voice that to be perfectly honest is better than a number of bands lead singers based on what I've seen live, and he certainly has the jokey arrogance two make one hell of a front man. For example after being introduced by Ryan, and then after introducing the rest of the band, each name met with a great applause and cheer he said "and now more applause for me". When Mendez was introduced he played a "solo" consisting of one chord, which Ryan Key jokingly failed to imitate proclaiming he wasn't good enough.

As the set continued with the crowd singing line for line the tracks they've loved for so long and the band occasionally hopping around with the music from time to time smiling along like they were enjoying it as much as the rest of the room, which consisted of a number of people ranging from there 50's to a few 16 year olds, though in my head I felt like the latter daydreaming about when I couldn't stop playing the album on my CD player. Whist I've praised the sound quality when there's nowhere to hide Yellowcard, like most bands nowadays did have some help from backing tracks. Though this fact was pointed out by Key, as he wanted it to be "All out in the open" that they used tracks for the Viola and Cello as they couldn't take them on tour with them. And to be honest, the volume of the track was rather low anyway, almost completely drown out by the band performing.

I can't describe how fantastic the sound was, but it really was one of the best if not the best acoustic sound I've heard, which is not something I say lightly. On top of the great sound, there was such a relaxed warm nature to the show, with a bit of laughing and joking. Everyone singing along and not too much faffing around like 5 minute speeches or 7 tracks with no talking. Just a great balance of chat and music.

As the set ended with the heartfelt "Back Home" one of my favourite tracks off the album, the lights stayed down and everyone cheered for more. With a huge applause and 2 or so minuets of "Yellowcard" chants, "Jizz in my pants" by Lonely island started to play as Sean and the Ryans (possible side project band name?) entered the stage, to play "Ten" off the latest album "Southern Air" an album I'm personally very fond of though not my favourite song it showed how the bands song writings developed over the years with a lower tone and a more "traditionally acoustic" style. It fit well. Ryan got the crowd to practice "Woahh wooaahhhing" for the next song as they then went back an album to play "Sing For Me" from "When You're Through Thinking Say Yes" which would have made a truly beautiful end to the set with everyone singing along as practiced at the end.

The rhythm section returned as they went back yet another album to the pre-hiatus "Paper Walls" to play "Light Up The Sky" as the pace and tone picked up. Key let the crowd take most of the last chorus of one of my favourite tracks. I could quite happily listened to them play the entirety of "Paper Walls" there and then but sadly no luck on that front.

As it came time for the very last song, no Yellowcard set would be complete without a bit of "Lights and Sounds" which completed the reverse run up from new back to "Ocean Avenue". Playing the title track with everyone's hands in the air clapping along, and singing with what remained there voices.

Sadly they didn't play all the songs I would have liked to hear, then again asking them to play over 3 full albums of material would perhaps be a little over demanding. Who can complain when you get a track from all of the albums they've released in the last decade and the full "Ocean Avenue"? Needless to say I went home and ordered the acoustic version that night, as well as "When You're Through Thinking Say Yes" acoustic. And I haven't listened to anything else for days, which is the sign of a damn good gig.

Yellowcard 5/5

Review By Marc Rich


Ryan Key
Sean Mackin
Ryan Mendez
Longineu Parsons III
Josh Portman

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 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?