Ryan and Steven were down at the Mandela Hall last week to catch Welsh pop-punk quintet Neck Deep tear the place a new one accompanied by As It Is, Real Friends and Woes. Here’s what they had to say about it! Big thanks to the Mandela team for letting us cover the event!
Wednesday evenings are made of this. A jam-packed Mandela Hall with bouncing tunes blaring through its massive sound-system. Neck Deep are a band I’ve experienced live numerous times before and they never fail to deliver their infectious and intense blend of pop-punk. I seen and met them recently at Reading and Leeds 2017 and upon asking the lads about their Belfast debut – they responded with excitement.
First up were Real friends. An amazing pop-punk band from Illinois, USA. They played a short set their more popular songs such as the punchy (and my personal favourite!) ‘Late Nights in my Car’ from their album ‘Put Yourself Back Together’. Proceeding through the set with bangers such as “I Don’t Love You Anymore” and “Loose Ends” to name a few -the guys played a sick set which got the crowd revved up for the succeeding acts!
As It Is played a great and energetic set, full of [colloquially expressed] ‘absolute bangers’! Opening with the anthemic “Okay”, the title track of their latest album under the same name, got the crowd on their feet and getting rowdy. Performing a set of fan-favourites spanning across their career including ‘Concrete’, ‘Hey Rachel’, ‘Soap’ and the storming set-closer that is “Dial tones” – Neck Deep had a tough act to follow as a touring support.
Neck Deep hit the stage to a myriad of police lights and flashing beacons at 9pm sharp kicking things off with the fast-paced single “Happy Judgement Day”. The guys in Neck Deep never fail to put on an energetic, sweaty show. This being their first date of the tour and one of the few times they have played their latest record “The Peace and the Panic” – there were songs scattered through the set which made their live debut such as the likes of “Parachute”. Along with being the first date of the tour it was also their first ever performance in Northern Ireland. They’re a band who know how to get a crowd going, pits went frantic and in-sync jumping galore to ‘Gold steps’ and ear-worm ‘In Bloom’ – a personal favourite of mine having a slow happy poppy tone to start followed by a massive chorus and crowd-sing-a-long. The pink-hue of the lights really set the mood of the tune in accompaniment.
On the new record, they released quite a heavy tune with Sam Carter of metalcore legends Architects called “Don’t Wait” – this song had the crowd going insane joined by one of their crew members filling in for Sam. Ben [Barlow] is known for his humour on stage introducing the crew member “Sam Carter everyone”. Towards the end of their set, they played their slower sappy-love-songs with Ben Barlow playing “Head to the Ground” alone on stage – this acoustic love song had the crowd swaying and singing along, nearly bringing Ben to a tear. However, the next acoustic they threw at us was welcomed with open arms and even shocked them “Wish You Were Here” holding a very special place with Ben and Fil during this performance without being asked by the guys the entire crowd got down low for the whole song – “Well Belfast we’ve never had this before”.
Coming back on stage they joked how it was unexpected and an unforgettable magic trick that they disappeared then brought they night to an end by means of their extremely energetic anthem ‘Can’t Kick Up the Roots” with optimal crowd participation during this song – it was incredible every single person jumping along and singing their lungs out. The final song the boys played was “Where Do We Go When We Go”. Once finished the entire band raved to the DJs choice of filler song while the stage was cleared. they stayed on stage dancing and throwing drumsticks into the crowd for a good 5 minutes before heading off.
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Words: Ryan Griffin
Photos: Steven Donnelly