Live Review: People On Vacation, Lacey & Danny Gruff – The Key Club, Leeds – 26/02/15

Jaret Reddick may be best known for fronting loveable Texan pop-punkers Bowling For Soup, but he has also been turning out peppy, super catchy power pop with second outfit People On Vacation for four years now. And this week saw Reddick and POV partner in crime Ryan Hamilton return to the UK for the band’s latest headline run.

Once again the pair (and their British touring bass player and drummer) were joined by regular support and long-time AH favourites Nottingham pop-rock four-piece Lacey, as well as fan-vote winner Danny Gruff.

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Gruff, it turned out, was an inspired choice to open the shows. His friendly laid back demeanour and easy going gag cracking meant the crowd that had arrived early at Leeds’ Key Club took to him instantly. His poppy, tongue in cheek acoustic take on folk-punk and sharply witty lyrics didn’t harm either garnering plenty of enthusiastic dancing and the odd singalong too. (3/5)

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Lacey wasted little time in showing they are one of the most complete young pop-rock bands around. New single ‘Tonight’, ‘Contender’ and ‘Change The Story’ all showed off the band’s slickness and killer ability to smash out big bouncy presence filled choruses. Frontman Graz Turner oozed an effortless charisma and belted out his vocals with aplomb and enough power to make his delivery as big as the hooks he was doing battle with. A very well pulled off cover of Jimmy Eat World’s ‘The Middle’,/i> also served to subtlety link Lacey with the sort of pop-rock superstars they could become if they keep growing at the same rate. (3.5/5)

After multiple UK tours it’s good to see fans now completely embrace People On Vacation as their own band rather than expecting Bowling For Soup lite, as that is absolutely not what POV are about. And as much as the former are veterans of the pop-punk game, the focus is very much on the pop with POV. Here it’s all melody and feeling rather than power chords and smart arse quips. And that is something that really brings it out the best in Reddick, a great example of this being the sweet yet punchy pop-balladry of opener ‘Prettiest Girl In The World’.

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The most striking thing about POV is just how well Reddick and Hamilton complement each other both musically and as performers. The contrast between their vocal deliveries and ranges does a great job of adding variety to the songs while also giving them a well-rounded and full sound. While the evident affection and endless ribbing between the two suggest the pair have moved beyond a bromance into a full on bro-marriage. Hamilton providing the unabashedly nerdy, game of thrones gag dropping ying to Reddick’s beer chugging dick joking yang.

From track’s like ‘She’s Not You’ and ‘You Got Me’ it seems the writing partnership with Hamilton has eased Reddick into adding the sort of genuine tenderness and open vulnerability in his lyrics that never made it into his more prominent outfit. Something which just adds to POV’s endearing appeal.

The band’s strongest track to date is easily ‘Lonely Little Fish’ which gets the room grooving to its aquatic take on love and life, before Hamilton sets off a tactful nod to his band mate’s original meal ticket. Slowly strummed acoustic chords and a lazy delivery kicks off POV’s own unique interpretation of Bowling For Soup hit ‘The Bitch Song’ that unites the room in a big happy singalong to end the set proper.

Upon their return to the stage Reddick took the opportunity to thank POV’s British touring bass player and drummer before stating “Bowling For Soup is my favourite thing in the world and we are coming back”. Then turning attention squarely back to POV explaining “These songs mean the world to me and it means so much to see you enjoy them”.

Finally a slowed down reworking of ‘Come Feel The Noise’ drew such an enthusiastic response that it coaxed Reddick and Hamilton into an impromptu guitar only rendition of ‘All I Ever Wanted’ to close the night on a touchingly sentimental note.

Bowling For Soup may have hidden farewell to UK touring, but on this evidence UK fans love affair with People On Vacation is just blossoming. POV have a sound that’s about as instantly likeable as a particularly cute puppy and a sound that is realistically much more universally accessible and appealing than anything Reddick built his name on before. Long live this big beautiful Texan musical love in. (4/5)


Words and photos by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)


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