Live Review: The Offspring w/ support The Hives & Bob Vylan at First Direct Arena, Leeds [30th November 2021]

Leeds Throwback To The 90’s And The Offspring Let The Bad Times Roll

Words and Photos by John Hayhurst

Before I arrive I’m greeted with the ‘No Photo Pass tonight’ message from their PR Management, so having packed away my cameras for 2021 I settle in the comfy seats upstairs with a pint. Tonight is all about reminiscing about those 90’s bad times, when wearing a baseball cap backwards was practically compulsory and The Offspring produced some of the shoutiest skate punk classics around. Looking around the Leeds arena, there are still a few hats in the same position but most are now covering bald spots.

There is a treat in store for those arriving early, dreadlocked and bare chested Bob Vylan are a two piece that combine powerful political rap/poetry with some wicked guitar samples, as a result they win over audiences everywhere they perform. I was lucky enough to see their set at Leeds festival this year and they are a tour de force to be reckoned with.

The Hives similarly will have everyone up and standing by the time they get to their biggest hits ‘Hate to say I told you so’ and ‘Tick Tick Boom’. Howling Pelle Almqvist is everywhere, in the crowd, on top of the speaker stack and always has something to say, usually addressing the “Ladies” first, then “Gentlemen” and then “Ladies and Gentlemen”. It’s a routine well worked for the last 10 years or so. The band are frenetic, wearing sharp black and white suits with matching shoes, their precision based punk guitars are loud and forceful. ‘Main Offender’ is pure brilliance, ‘Walk Idiot Walk’ sublime, and its all delivered with an over the top showbiz personality in Almqvist. They leave the stage to massive applause – job done.

The Offspring opened their set with “Staring at the Sun”, the sophomoric track from Americana. For many of us here, Americana is the quintessential Offspring album and spawned their most successful singles. Unsurprisingly, they wait until well into the second half of the set before playing three of these hits: “Why Don’t You Get A Job?”, The Kids Aren’t Alright” and not forgetting the number one single, “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)”. These 3 tunes create the most havoc in the crowd, almost a circle pit at one point and just a few crowdsurfers daring to project themselves forwards during Covid times. Similar euphoria was also felt for post-Americana hits “Original Prankster”, “Want You Bad”, and “Hit That”.

It was a proper greatest hits set with just three new songs from their latest LP, Let the Bad Times Roll, which didn’t look out of place amongst the favourites, it has been four long years since they played the UK after all.

With “Dexter” Holland and Keith John Wasserman (Noodles) being the remaining long term members of the band, they get a bit of a solo spot each. Dexter gets a grand piano on stage and performs a slower version of “Gone Away” from Ixnay on the Hombre, which for some was a nice cue to go to the bar – slow numbers at an Offspring gig, whatever next. Then Noodles does a guitar karaoke session to Blitzkrieg Bop/Master of Puppets/Paranoid/The Trooper a selection of the riffs from each. It can only be described as ‘filler’ to make the set last a little longer. Lets face it they are not known for their post 4 minute epic numbers, so they need to spin it out a little. He then covered Edvard Greig’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, which goes straight in to ‘Gotta Get Away’ and at least then we know we are on the home straight.

They save ‘Self Esteem’ for the encore but from this showing whilst they are older and ‘stockier’ they still have some pulling power and the chops to deliver what we all wanted. Don’t leave it another 4 years !

The Offspring Setlist

  • Staring at the Sun
  • Come Out and Play
  • Want You Bad
  • All I Want
  • Let the Bad Times Roll
  • Hit That
  • Hammerhead
  • Bad Habit
  • Blitzkrieg Bop/Master of Puppets/Paranoid/The Trooper
  • Inthe Hall of the Mountain King
  • Gotta Get Away
  • Gone Away
  • Why Don’t You Get a Job
  • Original Prankster
  • (Can’t Get My) Head Around You
  • Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)
  • The Kids Aren’t Alright
  • You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid
  • Self Esteem