Scouting For Girls this year celebrated their tenth anniversary as a band, including a re-release of their self-titled debut alongside 10 news tracks for Ten Add Ten and an anniversary tour. We headed down to the Bournemouth date of the tour to catch Blanco White, Ben McKelvey and Scouting For Girls at the beautiful O2 Academy. With Scouting For Girls performing their debut self-titled album in full alongside a few other surprises we knew we were in for a treat.
Sadly due to the sold-out nature of the show, we didn’t manage to catch Blanco White’s full set. However, despite this the short amount of his set allowed us to witness his Latin-inspired acoustic tones, gritty vocals on ‘Colder Heavens’ and an enchanting sound. It took us to a place far away from the unique surroundings of the O2 Academy. It felt like we’d taken a Spanish holiday albeit a short one.
From the moment Ben McKelvey appeared on stage burst of fans cheered and chanted, indicating a firm following within the crowd prior to the show. The multi-instrumentalist won over the crowd with his folk-influenced tracks and take on love and going through life. ‘Only Here Once’ gave the chance for audience participation; a sure fire way to get people interested in your set. Making the most out of your time on this earth is something Ben was no stranger to during his set, beaming with pride for the promising response received towards his tracks. Performing to sold-out rooms on this support tour would for any artist be a big deal yet for Ben he took the time to tell the tale of when he was playing to empty rooms leading him to almost giving up yet with support from loved ones came out stronger the other side. Leaving the stage it’s common to forget about the support acts in your excitement for the headline act but tonight this wasn’t the case, Ben McKelvey was firmly on our brains in the back of our mind for the rest of the night.
In the gap between Ben McKelvey and Scouting For Girls, we were treated to a playlist of some golden oldies hits including ‘Goodbye Mr A’, ‘Foundations’, ‘Naïve’ and ‘Mr Brightside’. Taking us right back to the time when Scouting For Girls were merely starting out, side note: how has it been a DECADE since then? Appearing onstage to a rapturous applause the trio now accompanied by Jamie O’Gorman on guitar threw themselves into ‘I Need A Holiday’. Honestly, it felt like a holiday when in that room with them as throughout the crowd any cares and inhibitions were forgotten, smiles graced everyone’s face and Scouting For Girls didn’t need any time to warm up. Over their ten years as a band, the trio has released some of the UK’s most loved tracks thanks to their quirky approach to songwriting (have you heard ‘Michaela Strachan’?) and upbeat, feel-good tracks (Listen to ‘Heartbeat’ and try not to smile).
But tonight’s show wasn’t just celebrating tracks from their self-titled debut it also saw fan favourites thrown into the mix including the likes of ‘Famous’ during which a selfie stick made an appearance making the crowd ‘be a face on the screen’. Alongside personal favourite and simple sassy in Scouting For Girls signature way ‘Posh Girls’, to which Roy Stride asks if there are any posh girls in the room leading to an underwhelming reply of screams. Stay classy Bournemouth!. With tonight’s show sold out in advance, the band had nothing to prove, they’d already won over people of every generation who were congregating in the room having the time of their lives. For this reason, there was a sense of relaxation and pressure release for them whilst performing, even if Roy and Greg Churchouse took this too far at times. Whilst Roy forgot the lyrics of ‘The Mountains of Navaho’, Greg frequently received disapproving looks from Roy upon forgetting his backing vocal cues. These small imperfections of the show without even trying to add to the fun of the night, it was light-hearted, feel-good fun.
Whether you’ve grown up with Scouting For Girls or were taking to the concert with your parents there were some songs the entire audience didn’t need any help singing along to. ‘I Wish I Was James Bond’ singing about Britain’s finest secret agent has undoubtedly the most recognisable keyboard introduction in the bands back catalogue and one of their most intriguing tracks. Since first seeing Scouting For Girls live over 9 years ago we’ve learnt they like to keep active onstage and keep the crowd on their feet. During ‘Elvis Ain’t Dead’, the stage lights dimmed providing a sense of mystery before cheers were heard in the venue balcony as Roy made his way across it greeting fans and taking his place where he could once again be fully seen and heard. At this point the first cover of the night made an appearance, merging ‘(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You’ flawlessly into ‘Elvis Ain’t Dead’. Another talent to be added to the list.
Scouting For Girls have gone from a band of three to a band of four and during their live shows become a band of five with the crowd being the choir providing backing vocals. ‘It’s Not About You’, Greg undertakes some bold hand gestures to initiate the crowd into singing back the oh so simple lyric of “it’s not about you, it’s me!” before grinning ear to ear when the crowd caught on. But the crowd’s staring role came during their ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ cover because quite simply the professionals couldn’t reach the high note so the audience had to do it for them! Audience participation? Check!
Old fan favourite ‘Keep On Walking’ provided a message of hope and reassurance for those listening that even when everything doesn’t seem bright there will be sunny times and success ahead. Scouting For Girls are proof of that, although it may take time to get there with hard work your dreams can be achieved. A little motivational speech really does go a long way. ‘Closing’ with recent single ‘Dancing In The Daylight‘, it allowed another four minutes of dancing, singing along and watching in awe as even from the back of the stage Pete Ellard stole a lot of the attention with his passion infused faces. Shout out to Jamie O’Gorman for making his presence known throughout with some of the slickest guitar riffs we’ve had the pleasure of hearing live. Change isn’t always good, but in this case, the live line-up change is.
Coming back for an encore which included ‘1+1’ which led us to question our maths, because we’re certain it doesn’t equal 3… The moment many had been waiting for arrived. Since it’s release ten years ago ‘She’s So Lovely’ has become a soundtrack for generations whether it’s from school discos or Angus Thongs And Perfect Snogging when Georgia made her infamous stuffed olive appearance. Who could ever forget? Throughout the show their onstage energy didn’t slip once, it’s apparent that performing these shows isn’t a job for Scouting For Girls it’s something they all truly love. This, in turn, makes it even more of an enjoyable experience to be a part of. We can’t wait for the next ten years of their careers and their ever so lovely music.
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