To celebrate a decade of their eponymous debut album, British pop rockers Scouting for Girls are taking their breakthrough record on the road and playing it in full. Boasting not one but three Top Ten hits which soundtracked a generation (and that iconic scene in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging), tonight the London quartet are playing a sold out gig at Belfast’s Limelight.
The venue is packed to the rafters when a single spotlight suddenly illuminates frontman Roy Stride’s keyboard. The opening bass notes which announce the band’s arrival cause frenzy, and fans begin singing before Stride can even open his mouth. Playing a set dominated by their seminal release, BRIT-nominated ‘Heartbeat’ appears early in the set, a true noughties anthem for a generation of now twenty-somethings. Performing to a sea of phones, the band declares the audience the fifth member of Scouting for Girls for the night, before fans burst into an acapella rendition of the song’s classic hook.
One thing Scouting for Girls can’t be faulted on is crowd interaction – as the frontman turns his microphone stand towards the crowd, he is met with beers and hands in the air, clapping along to every words of ‘Famous’. Tonight’s audience is clearly one of devotees, as non-single tracks receive as much as attention as the hit singles. The foursome’s brand of pop is geeky but self-aware and cements their place among the best of millennial nostalgia, providing the soundtrack to British teenagers’ woes for the last ten years along with the likes of Kate Nash (who played a tenth anniversary Made of Bricks show in the same venue only a few months previous). Now grown men belt out anthems about teen heartache and get away with it, only because it’s so shamelessly fun.
What the band may lack in stage presence at times, they certainly make up for in getting everyone else dancing along to the likes of ‘I Wish I Was James Bond’ and the acoustic accompaniment to ‘Bad Superman’. The quartet plays a crowd-pleasing set which can seem a tad samey to the casual listener, yet the infectious energy in the room and their loveable anti-hero vibe is undeniable. The crowd is split in two for a sing-off of 2007’s ‘Elvis Ain’t Dead’, complete with an impromptu interlude of ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ from the song’s namesake. Following a mighty ‘This Ain’t a Love Song’, another cover – Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ – is peppered into the setlist, and gives touring guitarist Jamie O’Gorman a chance to shine. “We probably shouldn’t sing this because we didn’t write it and I can’t sing the high bits,” Stride jokes under the colourful stage lights.
Responding Belfast’s customary chant of ‘one more tune!’, the venue erupts in cheers and confetti as Scouting for Girls return for a hotly-anticipated ‘She’s So Lovely’. It really is hard not to think of that scene with Georgia dressed as stuffed olive.