Concert Review: Madina Lake at the Nouveau Casino, Paris

Originally, Madina Lake’s European tour featured Chiodos as an opening band. But along the way, the band pulled out from the tour for unknown reasons. Even though I was very interested in seeing Madina Lake again, I first decided to take my ticket because of the combination of both bands. So, when I left home to go to the show yesterday knowing that Chiodos weren’t playing, I was not exactly excited. Instead of them we would get The Super Happy Fun Club, Mary Has A Gun and My Passion, three bands respectively from the US, France and the UK. I also wasn’t entirely thrilled by Madina Lake’s new album, World War III. Even though it is a good record, I didn’t really have the urge to hear the tracks live. It turns out that those concerns were crushed by the fantastic show the Chicago boys and their opening bands put out.

Madina Lake live in Paris

Despite their name, The Super Happy Fun Club is neither a band related to the emo scene, nor a group from Japan (if you saw their website, you know they could have been). They are actually a pretty new outfit from Chicago, who released their first record on November 1st. People were still coming in the venue when they started their thirty minutes set. They played well-rounded up radio-rock music that managed to warm up the crowd, but it seemed that their energy was hit by the half-empty venue.

In second was the band Mary Has A Gun, a French heir to the wave of summery pop-rock that flooded our speakers and Warped Tour in 2008/2009. Alternating songs in French and in English, the quartet won over the crowd –and pleased their numerous fans present at the show– with a surprising appeal that’s not common to many French bands trying to level up to Anglo-American standards.

The last opening band was My Passion, a quintet from London that incorporates synth parts to their music and emo/glam features to their looks. Even though it is easy to strike at their staging (singer Laurence René arrived on stage in a dramatic way, wearing tinted glasses and a Cruella de Vil-like black and white coat) it is much more difficult to point out negative elements in their set : My Passion presented the second most explosive set of the night. I must give my thumbs up for the keyboard player and drummer who are exchanging roles on this tour because the latter had a broken wrist and cannot play the drums. They both made it seem like they were at their rightful places. Live, their music is an explosion of fireworks that makes you dance like your butt is on fire.

With no surprise, the prize of the most explosive set of the night goes to the headliner, Madina Lake. The boys have been a band for around seven years and have never let go of their positivity and happiness, even though the terrible things that happened to them. This attitude transpires on stage, where their joyful faces and energy were contaminating and touching as soon as they started the first song, “Imagineer”. Even though the microphone gave Nathan Leone some trouble at first, it all settled in the coming songs. The Leone brothers were dressed up as military officials, a “WWIII” sign sewed on their arms in honor of their newest record World War III. Their set-list consisted of three other songs from this album including “Hey Superstar”, They’re Coming For Me” and “Howdy Neighbor!,” during which Nathan kept looking at his brother with a meaningful grin (if you don’t see what I’m talking about check out the lyrics).

Nothing can bring those boys down: even when they lower their sound to hear the crowd sing on some key moments but only soft voices resound, they still seem genuinely happy to hear that one person who knew the words. These moments were an exception though and the small audience massed up against the stage “like one big family” was still very enthusiastic and dance-jumped like crazy along classics such as “Now or Never,” “Here I Stand,” “One Last Kiss” and “House of cards” during which huge balloons popped up from nowhere and exploded in a rain of confetti.  A special mention goes to drummer Dan Torelli who always blows my mind, especially on the furious “True Love,” one of the last songs of the set-list.

The band also played a few songs from their second album including “Welcome to Oblivion,” “Never Take Us Alive” and “Let’s Get Outta Here.” Unfortunately their set had to be cut short because of time.  After a quick curtain call, Madina Lake came back to play “Pandora” in a general frenzy of hands up in the air and crowd singing accompanying the singer’s long notes. The band concluded the show by thanking the crowd once again, signing a few papers, shaking hands and promising to be back as soon as possible.

The first time I saw this band was 2008 and I promised myself to see them again. This year, I had my promise in mind but World War III didn’t have the same impact on me as From Them, Through Us, To You. Coming to the show I wasn’t as excited as I was more than three years ago, but I left the concert with the same thought: next time they are around, I’m definitely going.

Set List:

1)      Introduction
2)      Imagineer
3)      Adalia
4)      Never Take Us Alive
5)      Let’s Get Outta Here
6)      House Of Cards
7)      Now Or Never
8)      One Last Kiss
9)      Howdy Neighbor
10)   Hey Superstar
11)   Interlude
12)   Here I Stand
13)   Welcome To Oblivion
14)   They’re Coming For Me
15)   True Love
16)   Me Vs The World
17)   Pandora

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