Bowling For Soup‘s farewell to the UK in 2013 was a sad time for fans and musicians alike and although frontman Jaret Reddick said that ‘farewell wasn’t goodbye’, it was unsure when the gang would return to perform in the UK again. It was only last year that the group announced a return tour through the country in February 2016, and having seen one of their last performances this month before they returned to Texas, it was clear to see their loving audience certainly hadn’t forgotten them. Bringing an electrifying atmosphere and a smashing line-up made up of MC Lars, Lacey, and The Dollyrots, the O2 Guildhall was buzzing with excitement as each act smashed their performance, with Bowling For Soup rounding off the evening with a fantastic return gig, truly making it a night to remember.

MC Lars was the first on the scene, hyping up the crowd and bringing a few of his raps to Southampton to set the mood. Known for his rather unique taste in lyrics, Lars performed several tunes that related to modern interests and tastes, such as his tune ‘Dragonsblood’, about the popular TV series Game of Thrones, and the literary rap ‘Mr. Raven’, discussing the famous poem of Edgar Allen Poe’s similarly named The Raven.

Lars’ gig was short, but he returned to the stage several times to announce further acts and excite the crowd, providing entertainment in the intermissions of each act. Expressing a friendly atmosphere and encompassing the audience into joining in with his music, as well as bringing in a couple of audience members as backing vocals to Mr. Raven, Lars’ music expressed a buzzing vibe that left the audience eager for more.

Next up came the alternative rock band from Nottingham, Lacey. A relatively new band that showed promise of aspiration to the likes of Bowling For Soup and All That Remains.  Their appearance alongside the larger names of pop punk and rock brought much excitement to their fans who wanted to support their hopeful rise to stardom. Although unfamiliar with most of Lacey’s songs, I enjoyed their performance and apparent enthusiasm and joy for their career, as well as their interactions with the crowd showing that they had no small amount of fans in the audience that night.

The penultimate band to grace the stage was the American pop punk band The Dollyrots. Formed primarily of the couple Kelly Ogden playing bass and singing lead vocals, as well as guitarist and backup vocalist Luis Cabezas, they performed several of their classic songs from the bands’ fifteen year long career with a sense of enthusiasm and vigour that would normally be attributed to a new band just learning the ropes. With happy go lucky songs that brought out the spirit of the entire crowd, it’s clear to see why Bowling For Soup wanted The Dollyrots as their main support throughout their UK reunion tour. The Dollyrots also celebrated the birth of their child River Ogden Cabezas, born in late 2013 and the focus of the bands’ Barefoot and Pregnant album by giving him a little shot at stage time. The Dollyrots rejoined the stage to join Bowling For Soup for the bands duet song Love Ya Love Ya Love Ya, with vocals performed by both Ogden and Reddick, as they signed off for the evening to let the final event take control of the stage.

Above: Fan footage

After much anticipation from the fans, and not just for that evening, Bowling For Soup finally took to the stage to face a massive wave of enthusiasm. Kicking off the gig with some classics from their past albums, and with lots of banter and crowd interactions, they truly made it a night to remember. Making a point to always wave to the crowd, a form of interaction they’ve supposedly become very proud of, they also invited a young lad onto stage to join them. Little Logan was the envy and the king of the crowd that night, initiating slow waves that everyone joined in with, making his night that little bit more special. Finishing off with an encore of the classic song Girl All The Bad Guys Want, they left a crowd incredibly satisfied yet also craving more. I’m sure Bowling For Soup missed the UK as much as we missed them however, and another tour is surely on the cards for sooner rather than later.