Papa Roach, Nothing More, A, Hot Milk Live – London O2 Kentish Town Forum, April 17th & 18th 2019

Papa Roach can still put out great music and put on an unforgettable show 10/10

Two nights of pure hard rock, PAPA ROACH go all out to make their back-to-back London shows iconic, and I was lucky enough to be there for both.

The first night I observed from the barrier, with HOT MILK opening the show. Described as ‘emo powerpop’ from Manchester, UK, they were an incredibly enjoyable band to watch and we can expect to see big things from them. Their energy was brilliant and it’s great to see a new, upcoming band from the UK already supporting big names such as Papa Roach & You Me at Six.

Photo of the singer and keyboardist from the band A playing live. The background of the photo is lit with blue and white lights. The singer is in the foreground in stark contrast due to his red and navy anorak jacket and light brown trousers. The keyboardist is also singing while playing.
A open the 18th’s proceedings

For the second night, A took to the stage to be main support, an exciting change for the older members of the audience, going from the brand new HOT MILK to A, a seasoned alternative rock band from Suffolk, UK. A were great fun, playing all their greatest hits over the years such as ‘Nothing’. Younger members of the audience seemed more fixated on the fact that McFly’s Dougie Pointer was bassist for the band, often chanting “Dougie” who didn’t seem too bothered, instead matching the rest of the band’s energy jumping around the stage and enjoying himself in his current band. Lead vocalist Jason Perry was visibly enjoying performing, and was self aware of his image clad in a colourful windbreaker jacket “that my 15 year old son got me“. Whether you’ve heard of them or not, these guys were enjoyable for all generations and really won the crowd over.

Photo pf Jonny Hawkins of Nothing More illuminated by orange lights. He is wearing a dark hoodie and is staring towards the top right with his mouth open.
Nothing More’s Jonny Hawkins

NOTHING MORE from Dallas, Texas, performed both nights and has joined PAPA ROACH for the entirety of the UK tour. As someone who saw NOTHING MORE’s headline show back in 2015 at Boston Music Rooms, a 300 person capacity venue, I said back then that these guys would be huge, and after seeing them gradually tour with bigger and bigger bands I wasn’t wrong – from when they formed in 2003 to now playing a sold out O2 Kentish Town with PAPA ROACH. Many of the crowd were there for NOTHING MORE, and the few I spoke to before their set that hadn’t heard of them, were instantly won over by one of the best live shows out there.  Both night’s sets were the same, with vocalist Jonny Hawkins climbing the 400 pound, 14ft Scorpion Tail, the rest of the band take position and the beat of ‘Let ‘em Burn’ begins to pound, the lights flashing to tease Jonny’s silhouette swinging from the tail as he bursts into song – an impressive feat to keep his vocals smooth as he drops down.

Colour photo of Jonny Hawkins of Nothing More. The background is black with white lights breaking up the darkness with streaks. Jonny stands pursing his lips, topless with his arms outstretched, there's no fat on his body at all. His dark jeans sit low and his muscles are obscured only by his light chest hair and hair on his stomach. His curly red hair hangs down to his shoulders.
Nothing More’s Jonny Hawkins

Whereas the first night Jonny was shirtless with black paint covering one half of his chest, on the second night he chose to opt with a black ‘To Write Love On Her Arms’ hoodie, supporting the non-profit mental health charity. ‘Let ‘em Burn’ was the perfect opening song to draw in the audience and show anyone whose new to NOTHING MORE exactly what they are and what they have to offer, which is contagious high energy and passionate vocals. Despite being a support act, the crowd can still be heard chanting and singing along at the largest scale I’ve seen from a support band’s crowd. Sailing on the success of their fifth studio album ‘The Stories We Tell Ourselves’, it was expected that the band would heavily feature songs from it, although the crowd was still treated to hits from their self titled album, such as ‘Christ Copyright’ and ‘Jenny’. Jonny’s insane energy doesn’t falter and even when they slow things down for their emotional track ‘Fade In/Fade Out’, his presence still demands attention from the crowd. His energy growing as the song reached it’s climax, an incredible, hauntingly beautiful performance that was definitely the highlight song from the set. For a (too short) 40 minute set, the band still manage to have a great selection of older and newer songs, from ‘Go To War’ to ‘Jenny’, the entire band kept up with their frontman’s energy and put on a show whilst still managing to play immaculately. The epic finale was the band belting out ‘This Is The Time’ and returning to the Scorpion Tail to show curious newbies the full extent of it and the band’s epic-ness, sending everyone off with mash up covers of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ and Skrillex’s ‘First Of The Year’, it won’t be long until they’re the ones headlining that stage.

Papa Roach's Jacoby Shaddix singing live colour photo
Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix

Finally it was PAPA ROACH’s turn, a deafening scream was heard from the impatient crowd as the lights went dark, ending the suspense that had been building all night. The famous opening line of ‘Last Resort’ is heard before the lights flash and reveals Jacoby Shaddix – the first night he adorned a Union Jack leather jacket, whilst on the second night he opted for an acid wash denim jacket. ‘Last Resort’ was an interesting choice for an opening song, most bands save their most famous songs for the encore, so having this as the first song was a bold choice, but it certainly worked in getting the crowd’s blood pumping and the incredible opening performance left crowd knowing what they’re in for – a high octane show with all their best hits. PAPA ROACH bring out all the stops for their London shows, performing ‘Hollywood Whore’ not only for the first time on their UK tour but also for the first time since January this year. Shaddix explains this decision to the crowd stating that he “realised I was the Hollywood Whore we wrote about” – it’s a candid confession but the crowd is glad they chose to perform this huge hit, especially when Shaddix adds a screamo twist during as he belts out “I want to kick your face in“. It’s an incredible rendition that leaves you craving for a remastered, heavier studio version. Shaddix’s interaction with the crowd is faultless, not only having a perfect ratio of talking to the crowd, but also high fiving almost every crowd surfer that comes over the barrier, undoubtedly making a lot of people’s nights. Throughout you could tell that the band were having a great time, playing a varied selection of their oldest to newest tracks and everything in between. Highlights being their brilliant nu-metal anthem ‘Between Angels & Insects’ and one of their latest hits ‘Elevate’, the band’s progression musically and lyrically highlighted in the space of ten minutes, but is also evidence that they remain brilliant 19 years later.

Papa Roach live photograph of Jacoby Shaddix screaming into the microphone doubled over.

The crowd were particularly responsive to ‘Scars’, another musical highlight of the night, following up from ‘Forever’ it was quite an emotional part of the night, playing two songs that packed a punch for many of the crowd. It’s an emotional night all around, the band take their exit after ‘…To Be Loved’ and the entire venue starts calling out for more, still not satisfied after an already epic set of 15 songs. There’s an uncertainty whether they’ll do an encore, as they opened with ‘Last Resort’, a song you’d expect to be the finale. They don’t disappoint and reward the crowd with an epic encore, Shaddix once again taking the stage that illuminates with red, stating “This one’s for Keith” before the entire band throw themselves into an incredible cover of The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’, a fitting tribute to celebrate the late Keith Flint’s life and his contributions to the music industry. After a brilliant performance, Shaddix uses his platform to talk candidly about mental health in men and the importance of raising awareness, but also celebrates the fact Britain’s suicide rate has dropped drastically over the years. After a raw and powerful 7 minutes for the band and crowd, they end their show on a high with ‘Infest’ followed by ‘Broken Home/Blood Brothers’ before sending us off with ‘Born For Greatness’.

All in all PAPA ROACH’s UK tour is one for the ages and shows that despite their 23 years in the industry, there’s no stopping anytime soon. Not only can they still make great music, but they can put on an absolutely unforgettable show. 10/10

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