Live Review: Reel Big Fish, Anti-Flag, and Mad Caddies at 02 Academy Leeds

Fireball’s Fuelling the Fire tour returned to the UK, this year bringing in tow Reel Big Fish, Anti-Flag and Mad Caddies for a triple headline set. Ready to entertain the seas of attendees in patched black denim jackets, or trilby’s and ties.

Mad Caddies kicked off the headline sets, offering up their eclectic back catalogue of traditional ska-punk sound mixed with hardcore, reggae, jazz and swing. Not leaving any chance to let the night get stale, bouncing between more melodic numbers like Souls for Sale and Shoot out the Lights to their more hectic and faster tracks, such as Leavin’ and Monkeys. Taking advantage of the wide demographic in the room to not only bring out songs from most of their full-length releases, but also to best express the signature caddies sound and style. 

When the second headliners of the night came to the stage, the venue was jam packed. Accompanied by the sound of the iconic speech performed by Charlie Chaplin in the 1940 film, The Great Dictator. Leaving the ska heavy crowd under a solid impression as to what they were instore for. Though a slightly strange billing, sandwiched between two ska bands. Anti-Flag pulled no punches and didn’t soften an inch, from the first notes of The Press Corpse, the band were non-stop with their militant views towards to the American government. Bringing a best of in the form an eleven track setlist, pulling the most from their 2006 breakout album For Blood and Empire. The band also brought to the table two tracks from their forthcoming studio album, American Fall. Including American Attraction and were joined onstage by Reel Big Fish’s horn section for the newly released track, When the Wall Falls. Though a few attendees ventures to other areas of the venue during Anti-Flag’s set, it is without any doubt that they got people moving and brought a unique energy to the night’s proceedings, whilst amping everyone up and raising further awareness of events happing far from the Yorkshire city.

Last up were Californian legends Reel Big Fish, bringing their own self-depreciating blend of third wave ska to the mix. Known to be one of the hardest touring bands, they are constantly reinventing their show, blending newer songs in with old staples, there is something to keep every fan happy. In additional to their history of extremely well-crafted covers, there was no shortage, playing at least part of eight songs (nine if you include their opening of the Olé chant). Most of these coming from an update of their many versions of Suburban Rhythm, in which they set the crowd up to expect Sell Out, but were instead greeted with Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, Lit’s My Own Worst Enemy, The Proclaimer’s 500 Miles and Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Impression That I Get. The Fish also brought a real party to the room with a plethora of beach balls and foam hands being unleashed on the crowd, there wasn’t a still pair of feet in the building dancing along to the upbeat anthems. Although front-man Aaron Barrett’s enthusiasm didn’t appear to be quite what it used to be ten years ago, he still knows how to put on a show and keep the room buzzing. Assisted by the impossibly joyous horn section, consisting of Matt Appleton, Billy Kottage and Johnny ‘Christmas’ Christianson.

Though perhaps an ever so peculiar strange billing, no one seemed to end the night disappointed. Whether that was from venting frustration from current world affairs assisted by the words of Anti-Flag’s Justin Sane and Chris #2, or the feel of California sun being brought to a dull Yorkshire night.

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