LIVE REVIEW: McFly, The Underworld, London, 08/06/2023
Photo Credit: Emma Barrott
McFly have always had their toes dipped in rock music. Despite spending decades as pops version of a boy band with guitars, the longevity of tuning down their guitars in favour of a radio smash hit or critical commercial success is something that isn’t satisfying McFly no more.
You could argue that McFly’s first real foray into putting their fingers in the pop-punk pie came with Five Colours In Her Hair the line “She’s got a lip ring and five colours in her hair” the most emo thing that could even rival the likes of My Chemical Romance or Panic! At The Disco at the time of release. But when the band were booked to play a secret set at Slam Dunk Festival 2021, that’s when this on the surface pop band meant business in rock music.
Two years later, McFly have just released their new studio album Power To Play, a homage to some of the legends in rock and metal music done with tastefulness and class. Take the stadium rock size of the Foo Fighters to the style and swagger of Mötley Crüe or the powerfully heartfelt lyrics of Van Halen and you have Power To Play; McFly’s legacy album that has rock and metal coursing through its veins.
Naturally then, the next step for McFly would be to amplify this deeply rooted rock sound to stages they have never played before. Take tonight’s setting The Underworld, a sweatbox of a venue famous for playing host to a plethora of bands the alternative scene has to offer, from hardcore to punk to rock to metal to everything in between. And now McFly, a name on paper makes no legitimate sense for the sweaty confines of a Camden underground venue, but sonically with Power To Play makes perfect sense.
As McFly stepped out on The Underworld’s compact stage to the ear-defining screams of a few hundred fans for set opener Where Did All The Guitars Go? They well and truly prove that rock and roll is good for the soul as they put on an electrifying performance from the very start.
Putting on an album release show is brave, especially when most of tonight’s setlist is new unheard songs taken from Power To Play being prepared to be unleashed to the world the next day. But by the time the choruses of new numbers like the grandiose Queen inspired anthem Land Of The Bees to the heartland Bruce Springsteen-esque Forevers Not Enough or Route 55, a pop-punk song bassist Dougie Pointer penned with Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 during Hoppus’ battle with chemo. By the time the choruses roll around fans pick up on lyrics like they have heard these songs before, testament to McFly’s decades spent carving out some of the catchiest songs in any band’s back catalogue.
“Shall we play some old songs?” asks guitarist Danny Jones, before the band roll into a string of songs from early album Room On The 3rd Floor before closing off their set with the aforementioned Five Colours In Her Hair, the disbelieve of the rock fans present in the room whose childhood consisted of McFly being their gateway band into rock music being the biggest pinch me surreal moment of their entire lives.
Power To Play’s gargantuan rock sound makes it an album designed for stadiums and arenas, but as they venture out to London’s Alexandra Palace later this year on a full UK tour and tonight’s show at The Underworld, you can’t help but think honey McFly are home in these new settings with their new found legendary rock and roll sound. 10/10
Written By: Katie Conway-Flood
Photo Credit: Emma Barrott