If you went through an emo phase in the early 2000s, then it stands that A Lesson In Romantics is (or at least has been) one of your favourite albums. You will have scream-cried along with your equally emo friends to Miserable at Best as though you had actually dealt with heartache at the age of 13, and looking back, these will be some of your absolute fondest childhood memories. This year marks 10 years of that album’s existence, and the Mayday Parade have been celebrating across the world with an anniversary tour to celebrate some of the songs the made up the soundtrack of our childhood.
Just a few weeks before the tour hits NZ shores, where the band will play The Kings Arms Tavern, I was lucky enough to catch the show in Cambridge, England, at a small venue right in the heart of the University town. Supported by Texas based All Get Out, and Sydney pop-punk rockers With Confidence (during which I found out that “sculling” your drink is not, in fact universal, as I was the only one not looking totally blank-faced as they told us to scull our beers), the band were prepped to put on a stellar show as the energy all but bounced off the walls that enclosed us.
The 5 band members took to the stage, all smiles, and as Mayday Parade made their way through the 12-track album, it was clear that everyone in attendance had loved these songs for as long as I had. We screamed back every lyric without inhibition, fully embracing the angst – perhaps now with a little more understanding of what that actually means. The band members bounced around the stage, with no obvious set positioning, as each of them (minus drummer Jake, of course) made every effort to engage with the audience members, singing back lyrics and looking us directly in the eye as they played, making the already intimate venue feel even smaller and more personal.
Front man, Derek Sanders, never faltered, with a pure and genuine smile pasted on his face throughout, only slipping once as he stopped the show for a few moments to break up a fight that had kicked off in the crowd. With so many bands ignoring, and even encouraging this kind of behaviour, it was reassuring to know that the band we were all there to support wasn’t going to let anything ruin the fun, and that they genuinely cared for our safety. Mayday didn’t let this hold them up for long, though, as they promptly launched back into the set, with the crowd responding as though nothing had happened at all.
As the night went on, it became increasingly apparent that this band is all about looking after their fans, particularly as the crowd caught security off guard by crowd surfing fearlessly, trusted the the flailing arms of their peers to take them to the stage. With limited security to lift the surfers up and over the barrier, it left Cabbage and Brooks to save one brave soul from falling straight down into the media pit. The removal of barriers between fan and band are part of what makes a Mayday show so great. To feel so involved, and so appreciated by the people that make the music that you sing to in the shower, or cry to in your car, is such a special feeling, and few make you feel that way better than Mayday Parade.
As the album drew to a close with fan favourite You Be the Anchor That Keeps My Feet on the Ground, I’ll Be the Wings That Keep Your Heart in the Clouds, the band left the stage and Derek stood alone under a single spotlight, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, as he launched into a cover of Something Corporate’s Punk Rock Princess, before breaking our hearts with Terrible Things. The band returned to the stage midway through the stunning performance to assist Derek in crushing all of our souls for the latter part of the song. They then threw it back with old time fave Three Cheers for Five Years, taken from their debut EP, before picking up the pace with Kids in Love and an encore of Oh Well, Oh Well. We finished off the night as we had started: crying hard, and dancing harder.
Anniversary tours are fast becoming my favourite thing, as they give fans the opportunity to see live the tracks that perhaps they thought they never would. It’s an opportunity for those most loyal to show the band that they’ve been here since the start and they aren’t going anywhere. It’s this beautiful reciprocal gratitude between fans and bands, and I couldn’t be more excited that I got to witness it live in this instance.
Mayday Parade are bringing the A Lesson In Romantics 10 year anniversary tour to Auckland on October 10th, and you can still get your tickets here.