Bringing a small part of California sunshine to an otherwise cold Welsh November night at Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, US punk favourites The Offspring return to Wales for the first time since they played the legendary TJ’s in Newport back in 1993. They might be more punk granddaddies than new kids now, but the age range of the punters that have packed the Motorpoint Arena tonight is testament to the band’s enduring appeal, with parents and kids side by side.
The clued-in kids are all in early doors, to catch the future of punk do their thing. Bob Vylan seem to be going from strength to strength: an energetic set gets the crowd nicely warmed up and proves they can handle arena-size shows like this with ease. Just as well, because soon there will be no choice.
Next up are The Hives, who have something of a reputation for their great live shows. The Swedes stride on stage in their dapper black and white suits to deliver a hugely enjoyable set, including elongated band intros and frontman ‘Howling’ Pelle Almqvist’s ventures into an adoring crowd: at one point he splits the entire crowd down the middle, so he can go for a stroll. Garage rock anthems Hate To Say I Told You So and Tick, Tick Boom close their set, leaving The Offspring with something to top.
And the band step up to this by hitting Cardiff with a set of crowd favourites from their considerable back catalogue. It’s back to 1998 first, as they kick off with Staring At The Sun from Americana: that gets the crowd to its feet, but Come Out And Play and Want You Bad, bring on the first surge of crowd surfers and moshpits. The Offspring seem genuinely pleased – and not in an ‘obliging rock star playing to the crowd’ kind of way either – to be greeted with a packed arena; guitarist Noodles mentions that TJ’s gig, which at least half the crowd claim to have been at – and did frontman Dexter Holland really just refer to Cardiff as “the Diff”?
There’s some half-time entertainment, where another band would just chuck a guitar solo, but these guys want to entertain and do. We are taken through Noodles’ personal guitar history via renditions of Ramones, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden riffs, as well as a segment called Noodles Plays With Himself: the guitarist jamming with a cartoon likeness on the 50ft screen behind him. Whereupon it’s back to business as the rest of the band return for massive singalong Gotta Get Away and leave Holland and his piano to deliver the poignant Gone Away.
The punk reggae anthem that is Why Don’t You Get A Job gets the crowd singing along again, and as fiftysomethings now, you’d forgive them for waning slightly. Yet the energy levels onstage never dip as they barrel through tracks old and new, culminating in The Kids Aren’t Alright. After a set of so many classics the encore – quintessential 90s irritant Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) and Self Esteem – is pretty obvious, but nonetheless welcomed like old friends. As they depart the stage, there are grins everywhere as we all hope they don’t leave it as long to revisit us next time.
Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Tue 23 Nov
words CHRIS ANDREWS photos TIJS VAN LEUR
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