Yellowcard’s William Ryan Key and Swedish alt-rockers Normandie rocked London’s Boston Music Room last week.
20 years ago Yellowcard formed in Jacksonville, Florida and traded their Southern homes for the big city of Los Angeles in 2000 after they made it big with hits like Ocean Avenue and Lights and Sounds. This year the band’s vocalist William Ryan Key has been working hard on his solo material since Yellowcard called it quits in March after releasing their final single A Place We Set On Fire.
In anticipation of the yet-to-be-released solo record, William Ryan Key embarked on a UK tour with co-headliners Swedish alt-rockers Normandie and the bands stopped by London just last week.
William was the first to take the stage after support Grumble Be got the crowd all riled up. With his guitar, paddle and laptop on stage, William’s set felt a bit like we were right there with him in the recording studio as he made a one-man show sound like a five-piece rock band.
Kicking things off with Yellowcard track Southern Air, William Ryan Key tells us about the struggles of a young band moving to and navigating through a big city like LA after their first success in 2000. The old Yellowcard songs hit right in the heart for the fans in the room as the singing along doesn’t take much encouragement. Tracks of the band’s Ocean Avenue and California are a plenty tonight – to no complaint of anyone in the room, of course. Paper Walls, title track of the band’s 2007 record, also makes the cut with William explaining that it’s “a bitch to sing, so do help me out”, and he doesn’t have to ask twice.
And, of course, there is new music to listen to as well, after all that’s the reason we’re here. Live On is a stand-out track tonight with its moving lyrics about Linkin Park’s late and great front man Chester Bennington. William proceeds to tell us the story behind this song and how he was recording with a Swedish band in their home country and was asked to play with Linkin Park as part of Chester’s Hollywood Bowl memorial show. After a very emotional show William Ryan Key wrote Live On, inspired by not only Linkin Park and Chester’s family but even more so by their fans and how they showed their love for Chester. The heavy beats remind of Linkin Park and the mellow but uplifting lyrics of “even when you lost yourself in your darkest hour … you can lead us through .. we will rise for you” is giving everyone goosebumps.
So with this incredible new music coming our way and the good memories from Yellowcard that the room carried, William Ryan Key can be sure to always have a place in London’s heart.
Next up Swedish post-hardcore four-piece Normandie get set to rock the stage. The band released their debut record Inguz in 2016, followed by an instrumental version of the album in 2017.
As Normandie take the stage to a stomping intro, front man Philip Strand greets the crowd with a hearty “London! How’s this for a hometown gig for us?” before launching into their set with Fight, the first song on the band’s debut album. And just before jumping into the heavy guitar riffs of second track Awakening, Philip adds “This is the reason why we call London our second home town!” to his initial intro.
On top of playing tracks off their debut record, Normandie also play a bunch of new songs including extremely catchy and synth-dosed Ghost which offers a nice build up to a ripper of a track, and the mesmerizing, beat-heavy single Pay For This which formed part of the band’s encore.
Engulfed in clouds of smoke and ripping riffs, Normandie bring the heat to Boston Music Room on a cold December night. Their live shows bring an extra dash of oomph to what you’re used to in your headphones and hence have the venue bouncing throughout the entire set. A set that felt like it ended too soon but left crowd wanting more – the perfect ending for more to come in 2018 (we hope!).
To add the cherry (or rather, banana) on top of this post-hardcore sundae, the mosh pit was centered around a head-banging, rocking banana-costume wearing dude who was definitely living his best live.