Simple Plan/Cage the Elephant - Bristol Carling Academy
21 st April 2008

It's another busy night at the Academy, with plenty of teenage girls desperate to see teenypunk sensations Simple Plan. First, though, we are introduced to Kentucky's Cage the Elephant, who are an odd barrel of worms to say the least. The first song sounds energetic enough, but the effect is somewhat lessened by the fact that vocalist Matt Schultz's microphone isn't working. Even without sound, he's a crowd magnet, jerking around like Pinocchio on speed. Once the mic is sorted, the crowd have a good time with what can only be described as a mix of southern rock and funk. The sound isn't great, and they are probably used to having a bigger strip of stage to play on, but it's all entertaining enough without being particularly memorable.

Simple Plan are not a band to rush, as their three albums in six years can testify. The Canadian five piece keep the crowd waiting as anticipation reaches nicely sweaty levels, finally coming on to a massive roar. In the break, industrious roadies have unveiled a line of shiny new speakers that CTE were not allowed to use, and as a result the sound is loud and very proud. It's straight to the good stuff, as they start off with two of the best tracks from their highly entertaining 3 rd album, “Generation” and “Take My Hand”. Both have a magnetic energy about them and the audience goes appropriately mental. To further ram home the “Hey! Let's have a party!” atmosphere, the follow up this double whammy with “Shut Up” and “Jump”. Unsurprisingly, during the latter there is much jumping. Whilst this is going on I'm trying to get a good picture of singer Chuck Comeau, but the bugger bounces around so much it's not easy. He's a good frontman, though, despite dressing like an office worker who just popped in for a bit of karaoke in his lunch break. Ah, what do I know about fashion...

Simple Plan are exactly what they seem – another million selling punkpop band who deserve their success. The music is top notch and the band are extremely tight and entertaining. They're not a million miles away from Bowling For Soup (with whom they have toured), with both bands setting out to entertain and have a laugh at the same time. The crowd are often encouraged to sing along and jump around, and at one point Chuck gets out an acoustic guitar and the band improvise a song about Bristol. Well, they say they do, but I reckon they've been doing it every night and changing the town name. Regardless, it's a fun moment, followed by some well received flirting by Chuck and many pair of wet knickers as the band sing “I Can Wait Forever”.

The set finishes after 13 songs with the excellent “What If”, and as the crowd chant and cheer for the inevitable encore I notice one lad has bought a pair of Simple Plan branded fingerless woolen gloves. I've never seen them on sale before – is this the new thing? I suppose it's not worse than bands selling sweatbands in the Eighties. Whilst I'm musing over this, Chuck is smuggled out into the crowd and sings the first encore track “Untitled”, standing on the barrier surrounding the mixing desk area. I have to say that this is not something that usually happens here, and the crowd love it. When they finish, Chuck is rushed back to the stage for two more songs, completing a brilliant 90 minute set that will surely be a perfect end to the tour for the band. There's a lot of average punkpop bands out there, but Simple Plan are without a doubt among the few that stand head and shoulders above the pretenders. Check them out.

Review and photos by Alan Holloway, alan (at)
(c) 2008 RockUnited.Com, 5 May