For those unfamiliar with Pure Noise Records, they are one of the premier independent record labels in the world and, after two hugely successful tours highlighting the quality of bands on their label, they bought their awesome tour to the UK. With a line up that represented both new pop punk bands and those perceived to be the elder statesmen of the genre, this was definitely a night for those who love their pop to be punked!
Opening the show was Birmingham’s own Light You Up [7/10] who were greeted with more enthusiasm than 99% of opening bands ever. Having previously talked to BurnFM about their struggles to progress from being a local band to a touring band, you could see that the majority of the venue had seen this band before and had already fallen in love with them. With a set based on their newly released debut album, not everyone was familiar with the tracks however people were soon bobbing their heads and smiling due to their infectious melodies. The only draw back from their set was the illness of their frontman that lead to his voice sounding very weak and struggled at times to perform.
On the other hand, Forever Came Calling  came to the stage to very little fanfare as this was their first ever UK tour and were an unknown entity to the crowd. With a setlist that equally weighted with tracks from 2012’s Contender and last year’s What Matters Most the band came there to win over lots of new fans which they did successfully. A special note has to be given to their bassist John Swaba whose playing you cannot fully appreciate until you see it live, the complex runs he plays, and at the speed to, is simply captivating to watch.
It is slightly weird referring to Hit The Lights  as the elder statesmen of Pop Punk but with their first EP being released over 10 years ago it is an accurate description. They are a band that feels like Marmite, as you either adore them or cant stand them, and this statement was fully supported by the crowd tonight. Lucky the vast majority of the people were lovers of Hit The Lights. With the timing of the show, the latest Hit The Lights record, their first on Pure Noise, had only been with people for four days so the show was firmly filled with their “hits”. Their seminal albums, 2006’s This Is A Stick Up … Don’t Make This A Murder and 2008’s Skip School, Start Fights, made up the vast majority of the set and it was the lead singles off these albums that had the biggest reactions of the night.
The last time Four Year Strong  came to the UK, it was to headline a stage at Slam Dunk Festival on the back of 2011’s In Some Way, Shape, Or Form and some critics had written them off as just an easycore phase band. After some time off, the eZcore Revival of 2015 is firmly underway. Four Year Strong had rediscovered what made thousands of people around the world fall in love with them, it was their breakdowns that bands like Emmure would be proud of and combining it with catchy choruses that are reminiscent of New Found Glory. Opening with What The Hell Is A Gigawatt? and the shout of “Today’s the day that we start this war”, the venue erupted with energy. Their fast paced brand of rock music was met with circle pits and crowd surfers left, right and center by a packed O2 Academy. With a setlist that spanned the majority of their career, Four Year Strong demonstrated how high they have set their bar for themselves and it is good to report that live, stuff off of 2014’s EP Go Down In History holds up to the standard they have set. The standout moment of the set was Bada Bing! Wit’ A Pipe where, with the lack of keyboards in the band anymore, tour manager John James Ryan joined the band on stage with a saxophone which added an extra dimension to one of the best tracks in their back catalogue.
Pure Noise have firmly established themselves as one of the premier labels in pop punk and this tour only further reiterated this point. With a new Four Year Strong being released in a couple of months, their future is as bright as the labels. It is a great time to be a pop punk fan and hopefully we will see a full eZcore revival during 2015.