Me First And The Gimme Gimmes at O2 Ritz, Manchester

Support: Masked Intruder| Sweet Little Machine
February 22, 2017 at O2 Ritz, Manchester

In a somewhat regular occurrence now, punk rock supergroup Me First And The Gimme Gimmes visited these shores for an evening of hits from throughout the last few decades of rock and pop.

I missed all of Sweet Little Machine set due to traffic and a chunk of Masked Intruder‘s set due to having an interview with Gimmes frontman Spike Slawson, but by the time I got back into the main room, they were going down a storm. Obvious introductions to songs such as “this is a song about running from the cops, this is called ‘Running From The Cops’ and we hope you like it” were the norm, and the interaction with the crowd was great. The band have built a steady following on a great live reputation and even though there were some doubters earlier in the evening, the crowd was definitely bigger at the front by the time the band finished. Escorted by “Officer Bradford” leading them on and offstage and then rocking out whilst the band were playing, the band add that extra bit of theatre and fun to an already impressive set. Need to see them again.

As usual during recent UK visits, the part of Fat Mike was taken by Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley, and Scott Shiflett was called in to replace brother Chris (currently on Foo Fighters duty), but these are both absences that the band are used to and they manage to adapt to these situations well. There is still Joey Cape, (there seemingly to be the butt of all jokes) and Dave Raun from Lagwagon, along with Spike (looking every inch the Vegas entertainer, with his red blazer being the only addition to the bands uniform of Hawaiian shirts and white pants) all ready to create a party atmosphere on a cold, rainy Wednesday night. Opening with ‘Summertime’, the band raced through a selection of tracks from each of their themed albums at breakneck speed, with ‘Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard ‘and ‘Who Put The Bomp’ early highlights.

This was the fourth time I have seen the band and it never gets old. Here are a band of really talented musicians paying homage to songs they love from years gone by, and having great fun doing so. I’ve always said that the best novelty or comedy acts in music do well and have staying power because they are not merely taking the piss or being snide, but have an affection for the material that they are lampooning, and this is a prime case. Spike really can do justice to all of the different styles of vocals and they make the songs sound like their own, otherwise how many people would be starting pits to Elton John tunes. The set is crammed with crowd favourites, and a few from their latest release …Divas thrown in for good measure, including an amazing cover of Paula Abdul’s ‘Straight Up’.  In my interview Spike alluded to their being many more songs and artists that he would like to cover, and if that’s the case, long may it continue. In a time with lots of bad news and a lot of new musicians and bands being very inward and serious, it’s great just to get out and have some fun. As the show ended with their usual closer of ‘End Of The Road’, the crowd started leaving with huge grins on their face and all talking about when the band would be over next. One of the best live shows you can see, always a great night’s entertainment.

Set lists:

Masked Intruder: ‘The Most Beautiful Girl’ – ’25 To Life’ – ‘Unrequited Love’ – ‘I Fougt The Law’ – ‘How Do I Get To You’ – ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Alone Tonight’ – ‘Beyond A Shadow Of A Doubt’ – ‘Hey Girl’ – ‘If Only’ – ‘First Star Tonight’ – ‘Crime Spree’ – ‘Running From The Cops’ – ‘Breakin’ – ‘Stick ‘Em Up’ – ‘I Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye To You Tonight’.

Me First And The Gimme Gimmes: ‘Summertime’ – ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’ – ‘Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard’ – ‘Who Put The Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)’ – ‘All My Loving’ – ‘(Ghost) Riders In The Sky’ – ‘Sloop John B’ – ‘Danny’s Song’ – ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ – ‘Jolene’ – ‘Crazy For You’ – ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ – ‘Mandy’ – ‘Over The Rainbow’ – ‘Rocket Man (I Think Its Gonna Be a Long Long Time)’ – ‘Nobody Does It Better’ – ‘Different Drum’ – ‘You Only Live Twice’ – ‘Straight Up’ – ‘I Will Survive’ – ‘Sweet Caroline’ – ‘End Of The Road’.

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