Call me gay, but it was almost a good gig...

For six years now I have been a huge Bowling For Soup fan, so I was happy to see them come back to Swindon and play at a larger venue, as previously they had played at a pub a little while before I was a fan. This, along with the fact that they have come back here for their second tour this year tells you how popular they are with us Brits.

Tonight boasts a good line up of bands including Army Of Freshmen, the fantastic Zebrahead and Bloodhound Gang, and although Bowling For Soup are good, dare I say it, they are beginning to become a little samey. They speed through first songs, 'My Hometown', 'Emily' and the fast paced punk of, 'Last Rock Show', and it's the charisma of lead singer Jaret Reddick that really holds the band together. His singing is powerful and tuneful and the best out of any of the singers tonight, which is handy as big Chris on guitar always appears more interested in flicking his picks in the air and dancing around as he is to playing his guitar, and I wonder how much of his riffs Jaret is playing for him on his guitar.

We have a strange mix of songs here. All of the big catchy singles are included but it's strange to note that off of their new album, 'The Great Burrito Extortion Case' there are only the three singles, whereas we have seven from the previous album, 'A Hangover Your Don't Deserve', and five from, 'Drunk Enough To Dance'. For me, 'The Great Burrito...' is their strongest album to date, and as touring is also a marketing tool, it seems a strange choice of songs.

We have, 'Trucker Hat' here which I always thought a weak song, but with the crowd participation that we are encouraged it becomes better, and then the only song from, 'Let's Do It For Johnny' album, the once anthem, 'Bitch Song' now slips nicely in the set when before it was the band's signature tune. 'I'm Gay' is a great song, with fast paced verse and a memorable chorus, 'Almost' and the great, 'Two-Seater' show how good the previous album was, before the band have one of their famous drink breaks, and then Chris decides to show us his wafting ball sniffer dance. "I swear to God," Jaret says. "I could just watch you all night, Chris! You are fucking funny! What the Hell are you doing now...?"

Erick and Jaret have a good comedic presence, and even Gary now speaks freely when previously you never heard him utter a word. We have the catchy bubblegum punk rock of 'High School Never Ends', and the great, 'Life After Lisa', before the new single of 'When We Die' slows things down and almost slows the pace to a stand still. The crowd is soon jumping around again to probably the band's biggest hit, 'Girl All The Bad Guys Want', before their other catchy tune, '1985'.

We are then into encore mode as the band come out to play, 'Get Happy' which I've never considered one of their better songs, let alone good enough to name a tour after it, but hey what do I know? The last song is a surprise, as often in one of their best old song's 'Belgium' they used to sing the first verse and chorus to a number of songs currently popular in the charts, unfortunately they have dropped this song from the set now, which I find a real disappointment. Then of course there was their cover of Bryan Adams' classic, 'Summer Of '69' that appeared on their album, 'Let's Do It For Johnny', and their version of Britney's, 'Hit Me Baby...' among other covers from their album, 'Goes To The Movies' (and Freaky Friday soundtrack), however tonight we have the Johnny Cash classic 'Ring Of Fire' to see us out.

So to conclude, what you get with Bowling For Soup is pretty much what it says on the tin. They are performers and entertainers even if they are not the best band musically. This is my eighth Bowling For Soup gig that has seen me go from Oxford, Aylesbury, Southampton, London and finally back to Swindon, and with each tour you can see the fan base growing. Tonight was not one of their better gigs but I suspect that this is because the bar has been raised so high previously that sometimes it's hard to be that good each time. They almost had a good gig...

Set List:

1) My Hometown
2) Emily
3) Last Rock Show
4) Punk Rock 101
5) Trucker Hat
6) I'm Gay
7) Almost
8) Ohio (Come back to Texas)
9) Bitch Song
10) Two Seater
11) High School Never Ends
12) Life After Lisa
13) When We Die
14) Girl All The Bad Guys Want
15) 1985


16) Get Happy
17) Ring Of Fire