Live Music + Gig Reviews

Good Charlotte @ Mean Fiddler, London

2 February 2003

Anyone bereft of MTV might have missed the rise and rise of hosts Joel and Benji Madden, the Washington DC twins fronting the sk8er boi outfit Good Charlotte. But here was a chance for the rest of us over in Dubya’s 51st State to see what all the fuss was about as the brothers and their friends took to the stage of the sold-out, subterranean after-school party that was the Mean Fiddler.

From the off, they sent their tightly packed and impossibly young audience pogoing. With a set comprising of a slew of major-scale songs, including the single Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous, the boys bounced about the stage – and bugger me with a broomstick if I could see a guitar lead anywhere, despite the presence of two axe whackers and a bassist.

After mere moments a stage-diving epidemic beset the place, confirming that the band had been busy building a fan base with the release of their second album The Young And The Hopeless. The security staff seemed unaware as an oik with a beehive where hair should have been hopped about the stage like your village fool. He was just the first, as wave after wave of flailing feet made their way over ducking heads.

And while the energy levels and pop persona of Good Charlotte’s music was already a winsome mix – Benji even veering into hip hop at one point- this band’s appeal seems to lie mainly in simple lyrics that speak directly to disaffected kids in the ‘Burbs. The kind of people who make up this band, actually. There’s even a song called Girls And Boys, and another about the brothers’ old man called, appropriately enough, The Story Of My Old Man.

Thus it was that axe-whacker twin Joel advised us that, should we ever contemplate suicide, that “in a few years it’ll all be alright”. Absolutely – it’s called growing up. But how sweet of them to preach such a positive message.

It’s a message that’s obviously found its audience – the entire place was singing along to each new number, taking the atmosphere to something like that of a fans’ convention. For here were the mildly irritated youth of today, people who (unsurprisingly) respond positively to a chant of “I don’t want your 9 to 5”. Good Charlotte’s appeal might be basic, but it’s certainly persuasive.

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Good Charlotte @ Mean Fiddler, London