Just check out the bands present at the Good Charlotte gig in Brussels – Soulfly, Bad Religion, Slipknot, Oasis, Sum 41… hanging out at the bar… on fans’ t-shirts. The gig is certainly an opportunity for daddies to spend quality time with their kids. But the audience here is slightly older than at Paris’ Boule Noire, where GC played a promo concert last October for 200 very young and restless fans. There are actually people in their 20s here.
Opening act The Explosion look like clean-cut, all-around nice boys, and despite the rather generic sound, they really get the crowd going. They probably listened to Green Day before really getting inspired by Good Charlotte and Sum 41 and deciding to form a band. Yup, that imitable sound is there. The band they’re unconsciously emulating is preparing a big entrance. As a way of recreating the operatic debut effect of their album, an endless soundtrack of some big Hollywood production is announcing their not-so-imminent arrival. Come on already! The smoke is rising from the impatient fans. Not sweat, more like ciggies and other herbal smoking things. The gray, sinewy lines can still be seen dancing up towards the ceiling as the lights are dimmed. Finally.
In an impeccable white suit, Joel Madden gets the audience singing on cue, before taking off his blazer to reveal a sleeveless dress shirt on Walk Away. Screechy guitars and thumping jungle drums follow, accompanying his “Are you listening?” screams. Yeah, Joel, get on with it. “All I want is a Valentine,” he sings on My Bloody Valentine. The audience is full of volunteers, but they’re soon disappointed as he makes his Big Announcement. “Belgium, I’ve met a girl here and we’re getting married. We’ll have sex and have a baby and raise it here in Belgium and he’ll learn four languages!” Gee, funny that, in Paris, he claimed to have met a French girl with whom he was going to do all of the above things. A girl in every port? No, more like a story you better change the next city you play in.
During The World is Black, as the drum beats mingle with the rhythmic bass, Joel has something important to say again. “I wrote this song about the world out there. Sometimes I feel love, but today I woke up thinking, Maybe I should go home, give up.” Here it comes again. “But I saw you, Brussels, and I fell in love.” A little too sugary for my taste, until his twin Benji stands alone on stage with his acoustic guitar, interpreting a very moving Wounded, relieving some of my nausea, like Coke would.
As they chronicle life and death, I notice… sometimes the audience is just so damn more interesting… that most people don’t dance nowadays; they just nod their heads like rhythmic robots. My thoughts are interrupted by yet another declaration of love before they head into Mountain. “I want you to sing along with me because I love Belgium.” OK, call the Nausea Police! Moving On starts off with some big 70s guitars before reverting to the GC sound again. “How many of you are in bands?” Not many. “We wouldn’t be up on stage if it weren’t for you.” One wonders whether he’s grateful for less competition or just plain grateful. “Tomorrow, we go to Amsterdam.” Boooo. “We go from Holland to Paris.” Boooo. “Then we go to London.” Yaaaay. Very revealing about what the Belgians think of their immediate neighbors.
The show closes with Lifestyles Of the Rich And Famous. Good Charlotte showed themselves to be more than just a mere “punk boy band”. Rather, they’re a bunch of all-American boys-next-door who love Brussels.