12

Reel Big Fish 20th Anniversary Tour, Norwich Waterfront

It's hard to believe that Ska veterans Reel Big Fish are currently celebrating their 20th Anniversary; it seems just a few short years since they were getting some mainstream lovin' with their ironically named 1997 hit 'Sell Out'.


Reel Big Fish tours have become pretty much an annual occurrence over the last few years, and the last time I managed to catch them live was in 2009 at the larger venue, Norwich UEA (incidentally, again with support from fellow Californians Suburban Legends). Does the change of venue indicate RBF's appeal is, in Spinal Tap parlance, becoming more selective? Judging by the queues outside and the venue being sold out the band's popularity certainly doesn't seem to be on the wane.


Click for large image

Not content with one or two support bands, Reel Big Fish have taken three support acts on the road with them. Each band are capable enough in their own way, and have their own distinctive style; Openers 'New Riot' belt out some exuberant Ska-punk and are confident (or full of themselves) enough to get some audience participation going on, even managing to get the entire audience sitting down at one point. Second support act, 'The Skints' have a kind of hypnotic dub-reggae thing going on, pleasant enough at first, but ultimately pretty forgettable. Final support of the evening was provided by Suburban Legends, a band whose members once, somewhat surprisingly, included the late Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan of Avenged Sevenfold fame on drums. Playing disco-tinged ska, and featuring some nifty, and rather camp, synchronised dancing throughout their set, Suburban Legends have no trouble entertaining the audience and it's easy to see why RBF enjoy touring with them so much.


Headliners Reel Big Fish may have been around for two decades now (ok, so mainman Aaron Barrett is the only original member) but, if they're starting to feel their age or getting weary of the perpetual touring, there's certainly no sign of it as they belt through a solid gold setlist full of fan favourites. Opening with the hit 'Sell Out', the band soon have the audience sweaty and skanking and, even though it should probably seem a little wrong hearing a man in his late thirties singing about hating everyone in school or how 'Everything Sucks', it's all done an irresistibly upbeat way and obviously appeals to the large number of 'kids' in attendance.


As well as performing a crowd-pleasing selection of their own hits, such as 'She Has A Girlfriend Now', 'Good Thing' and 'Beer', RBF also managed to squeeze in some impressive covers including Toots & Maytal's 'Monkey Man', A-ha's 'Take On Me' and a skanked up version of Van Morrison's 'Brown Eyed Girl', introduced by Aaron Barrett as 'The best song I never wrote'.


Click for large image

Click for large image

Click for large image

With a shedload of catchy and uplifting tunes about being down at the mouth to choose from (and their good-natured between song banter) it's easy to see how Reel Big Fish have managed to build a large and loyal live following over the past 20 years. If you've missed them this time it's well worth catching Reel Big Fish live next time round if you get the chance.



To view all photos taken during this set click here. There are 4 available.