LIVE REVIEW: McFly, LostAlone, Bournemouth International Centre, 28/10/2023
Photo Credit: Alia Thomas
In celebration of their 20th anniversary and latest album Power To Play, McFly are currently out on an extensive run of UK shows which included at date at Bournemouth’s International Centre. With an extensive queue braving the rain to get the best spots, we had a feeling tonight was going to be a special one.
Opening across all dates of the tour was LostAlone, for many this may seem like an unlikely collaboration but as vocalist Steven Battelle and McFly co-wrote a number of Power To Play tracks, this was an understandable and great pairing. Showcasing their incredible guitar work, which they’ve become known for, the band worked hard to get the crowd on side during tracks including Enduring The Dream and Blood Is Sharp. With the turning point coming mid-set during Hostages (Destiny) as Battelle became determined to turn the coastal venue into the sea with arms flying and punching the air; ‘The seas did get choppy in the end’. His natural frontman abilities saw Battelle talking to those within the crowd about everything from merch to his hair and even accidentally offending everyone by calling us all whales…
Bringing on an incredibly heavy, yet funky titanium guitar for their favourite track Crusaders, balcony rock became a thing as the crowd were in LostAlone’s hands chanting along as instructed. Having recently announced their March 2024 headline tour (including a Bournemouth stop) alongside sharing their new single I’m A Fire That You Can’t Put Out which showcased everything which makes the band such an incredible live unit, from soaring vocals of Battelle, gritty guitar lines and instrumental breakdowns resulting in the perfect example of a classic rock track done right. It might not have been the easiest crowd, but it was clear they’d made some new friends within the audience who will be heading to their Bear Cave show next year. 8/10
Listening to the interlude playlist filled with rock inspired tracks, it really did feel like we were about to witness a sweaty, rowdy rock show from the quartet. As the YMCA kicked in and the crowd united for a feel-good dance, it was time for the band to bound across the stage and kick into action with Where Did All The Guitars Go? the heavier, guitar laden track saw the rock’n’roll horns out and we instantly felt like McFly are good for the soul as they rocked out on stage.
Showcasing Power To Play tracks including the feel-good sounds of Route 55 and their pop-punk anthem, I’m Fine, they were confidently belted out by the crowd with the quartet looking on and embracing all the love being sent their way. With middle fingers in the air, screaming along to ‘Wish I could tell you the truth, which I could say fuck you!’, in I’m Fine it felt like we’d been transported to a full-on pop-punk show. Dougie Poynter was taking on a significant vocal role with ease and confidence and it was incredibly refreshing to see him with this bigger role in the Mc-Show compared to previous tours.
With such an extensive back catalogue, tonight’s setlist allowed unexpected additions including Friday Night and Corrupted to get outings, albeit a duller response to these than some of the band’s well-loved singles but this was to be expected in such a hit filled set. The double whammy flaunted each of the members abilities, in particular with Danny Jones and Tom Fletcher’s in the first track and Poynter’s impassioned vocals during the Corrupted bridge. Following with Too Close For Comfort, Poynter explained ‘we’re done with the sad songs now, it’s time for some fun’ as the next part of the set kicked in and the fun continued.
Tonight’s setlist was truly bop, after bop as seen with Everybody Knows featuring special guest Beatrice chosen from the crowd to be the band’s cowbell player for the night. It was fun, it was unfiltered and it was impossible to not have the best time as fan favourite Star Girl followed and marked one of the best moments of the night. Even if the crowd did get a little out of time with our ‘ooooohhhs’, the synchronised dancing from Poynter, Jones and Fletcher was on point, clearly showing how much fun they were having especially as the crowd screamed along the nostalgic line of ‘galaxy defenders stay forever’ with every bit of their soul.
But tonight wasn’t totally a full-on rock show, as Fletcher and Jones took centre stage for a beautiful stripped back take on Not Alone supported by phone lights and even LED candles in the crowd, it was simple but a reminder of the versatility McFly have musically. The acoustic All About You saw the crowd vocals overpowering the band, with the audience reaching out and reflecting on the track which could be about a friendship or relationship with the important people in your life.
With LostAlone supporting on this tour, it was the perfect chance for Battelle to collaborate live with the band on one of the songs he co-wrote with them and this came with Shine On. Everything about this track worked, from Harry Judd driving the track desperate to keep in on the action, the in-sync guitar moves from Fletcher and Poynter with Battelle looking right at home as the guitar gods owned the stage. Closing the main part of the set, Jones wasn’t happy with being up on the stage instead preferring to head down and say hello as he worked through the crowd to join the mosh pit in the middle of the standing floor for a rockstar version of Red.
As the set drew to a close much to the disappointment of the crowd, Fletcher joked ‘I had covid when they came up with the setlist, blame them!’ before thanking the crowd and letting us know that being in McFly is the best job in the world which made us wonder how we can join the band… Closing their set with their debut single, the crowd energy peaked as everyone gave it their all for Five Colours In Her Hair. As the final notes rang out Jones added a sincere thanks ‘this shit happens because of you, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts’, you could feel the love from the band to the crowd and back to the stage. Having seen the band before, there was something incredibly special about tonight which could only be appreciated if you were in the room.
Like McFly sung in One For The Radio; ‘don’t pretend you hate us, and you sing our songs’ and it’s true. Whether you love them or not, the quartet simply are one of the finest examples of evolving musically whilst maintaining their fanbase and gaining new ones along the way twenty years on in their career. Here’s to the next era of McFly! 9/10
Written By: Nicola Craig
Photo Credit: Alia Thomas