As unbelievable as it sounds, Fall Out Boy have been around now for 15 years. Their debut album, Take This to Your Grave, was released in 2003, and their big break came in 2005 with the top 10 Hot 100 hit “Sugar, We’re Goin Down.” In 2012, after a three-year hiatus, they rose from the ashes of the emo rubble to reclaim their crown with Save Rock and Roll — by far their best effort and arguably one of the most underrated rock albums to come out in the past decade.
Still riding that wave of renewed success, the band splashed down at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Saturday (Oct. 28) amidst a sea of pyrotechnics and an elaborate light show one week into the MANIA Tour, supporting the album of the same name that comes out in January. It was a tight, hits-packed set that saw the act ripping through 21 songs in 90 minutes.
After the entire band rose up from under the stage for the apropos opener “The Phoenix,” the show featured songs from all seven of their studio albums, from “Grand Theft Autumn/ Where Is Your Boy” and “Saturday” off their debut to four songs off the upcoming MANIA. But the best of the bunch fell in between that.
FOB played five songs off their most recent album, 2015’s American Beauty/ American Psycho, including fan favorites “Immortals” and “Uma Thurman.” And they of course performed early hits like “Sugar,” “Dance, Dance” and their biggest Hot 100 hit to date, “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race,” which peaked at No. 2 in 2007.
In addition to “Phoenix,” “Alone Together” and the stand-out “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” off their comeback album filled the arena with nary a note out of place. During the title track, “Save Rock and Roll,” singer Patrick Stump sat at a piano and tried to mimic <a href=”/music/elton-john”>Elton John</a>’s original guest vocals to varying degrees of success.
That said, Stump was otherwise in fantastic form. While bassist Pete Wentz often overshadows the singer in terms of name recognition, Stump is the real star of the show.
In the same way Save Rock and Roll is underrated, so is Stump. A pop-punk/emo version of a blue-eyed soul singer, he makes hitting those high notes while vocally maneuvering through octaves, along with tongue-twisting lyrics, look easy.
Still, he seems perfectly fine with Wentz stealing the spotlight. In fact, the bassist did pretty much all of the between-song banter, including calling out a fan for using an iPad to film the concert. “I see you’re enjoying the show,” he said sarcastically.
At the end of the night, as if acknowledging the dynamics, Stump took over Wentz’s stage-left spot while Wentz put down his bass and grabbed the mic to work the crowd.
While the stage was pretty sparse — with just the band, some lights and pyro equipment peppering the space — FOB kept things interesting for the largely young, mostly female crowd by shooting off flames and fireworks, raining down confetti and streamers, and dropping T-shirts from the ceiling via tiny parachutes. There was also a runway that led to a second and third stage that lifted high up off the floor so that fans in the back and the nosebleeds got a better view during three songs.
But the most prominent and pervasive gimmick was a giant video screen playing both relevant and seemingly irrelevant images. What schools of swimming fish and arctic landscapes have to do with “The Last of the Real Ones” is anyone’s guess. But the images worked when, say, “Uma Thurman” was playing against a backdrop of the actress in clips of Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction.
In more poignant and thought-provoking moments, the screen flashed pictures of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee interspersed with Martin Luther King Jr. during “Centuries,” an overview of Princess Diana’s life played during “Champions,” and there was a quick flash of the late Tom Petty at the end of “Save Rock and Roll.”
But did the tweens, teens and 20-somethings even know who half these people were? Did it matter? Probably not. Because when it comes to music, the spirit of rock and roll is universal and generation-less.