Cardiff University- 10.02.2011
Kerrang! Relentless Energy Drink Tour

I’ve always been sceptical of GOOD CHARLOTTE’s credentials as a band. Are they pop? Are they punk? Are they pop-punk?

Whilst sporting the obligatory tattoos so beloved of most So-cal punk bands, they (well, at least front men Joel and Benji Madden) seem equally happy to seen in the pages of the gossip magazines ostentatiously covered in bling and showing you round the Beverley Hills pad they share with various “babes” like Paris Hilton, Hilary Duff or Nicole Richie. It’s difficult to believe that Joe Strummer, Sid Vicious or Johnny Rotten would have an elephant greet guests at their wedding, which is exactly what Joel did at his recent nuptials. So it was with slight trepidation that I went to see them live in Cardiff University. And did they win me over? Read on…….

The first thing I notice, in the admittedly sold out venue, was how young the audience were. Now this could be more to do with the fact that I’m no spring chicken (they say the first sign of getting old is when all the policemen look young). As far as I could see very few were out of their teens, which is a bit of a double-edged sword. You can argue that they will keep buying their CDs for decades to come, but young fans are notoriously fickle. Also, given that their debut release was in 2000, I wondered where have all the original fans gone?


Pic Ed Fielding

Still, I seemed to be alone in my musings as the band took the stage to rapturous applause. Immediately they launch into what I always considered their best number “The Anthem”. With its lyrics appealing to disenfranchised youngsters, it was a perfect way to get the crowd going. Despite my reservations, live they are actually a tight unit, presumably hardened by much global touring in the last decade. Whilst inevitably it is the Madden boys that hold centre stage, the rest of the band can more than hold their own.

Given that they have a greatest hits package about to launch the set list didn’t vary much from their singles, plus a few album track crowd favourites. So we had “Keep Your Hands off my Girl”, “The River”, “Girls and Boys”, “Silver Screen Romance” “The Young and the Hopeless”, “Sex on the Radio” and “I Just Wanna Live”. Whilst their lyrics are hardly the deepest of prose, they certainly make some valid points. As I pointed to my other half when the last credit card bill turned up, “Girls don’t like boys, Girls like cars and money”.
In fairness to them, the band made big play of being in Cardiff. Whilst the more cynical of you might say they do it for every town they are in, at least they had some idea where in the UK they were. This is more than can be said for some of the touring American bands I have seen over the years. The interaction with the crowd was commendable, even down to Joel sporting a Welsh flag round his neck for the latter stages of the gig.

It goes without saying that the crowd lapped up every moment and if I was a teenager, instead of a grumpy old git, then maybe I would believe they were truly rebellious and ground breaking. But isn’t that the point of rock music, it isn’t for old men but for the youngsters to momentarily kick against the pricks, even though most of the student audience tonight will go on live safe middle class lives.

They came back on for an encore of their biggest number “Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous” which funnily seems to be where the bands front two now appear to be. However, not even I can say it wasn’t enjoyable. Whilst I still think that Good Charlotte are a bit like musical candyfloss, initially enjoyable, but with no real substance, I prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. Good gig? Yes. Punk Rock? The jury’s still out!