O2 Ritz, Manchester
13th October 2022
Canadian pop-punks PUP return to the UK in support of their fourth album, proving just how far they’ve come in that time. Louder Than War’s Dave Beech was there.
Having first seen Canada’s PUP supporting fellow pop-punks The Front Bottoms in a tiny room at the now-demolished Sound Control back in 2014, they’re certainly a band we’re familiar with. This said, tonight’s choice of venue did prove to be something of a surprise. Though not the biggest venue in Manchester, the O2 Ritz still hosts a sizeable room that takes some filling, and the question of whether the Canadian four-piece are up to the task is in the backs of our mind.
Arriving later than planned, we find the venue’s downstairs packed to the rafters; the heat of 1800 people proving instantly uncomfortable. With that in mind, we head to the balcony for some breathing space, taking our positions just as PUP take to the stage to a massive roar from the crowd below, immediately dispelling any lingering worries that this wasn’t the right venue.
Kicking things off with ‘Four Chords’ from their recent album, The Unraveling of PUPTheBand, it sees a huge mosh pit open in the centre of the crowd, one that doesn’t really close until final track finishes 90 minutes later. It’s a furious opening to the set and establishes an almost breathless pace that ensures material from each of the band’s four albums gets some airtime, while those in the crowd get little in the way of breathers.
“You’ve got to be respectful to each other out there,” declares frontman Stefan Babcock, before launching into recent single ‘Robot Writes A Love Song’. It’s a nice sentiment, yet one that seems a little redundant given just how good natured the mosh pit below looks. ‘Free At Last’ sees the whole jump in unison. It’s a joyous sight and showcases just how far the band have come since they played a dingy basement venue barely 400 yards away.
Indeed, that Pup have come so far is a testament to both the music, and the fans it’s come to mean so much to. Huge choruses echo through the venue for each and every song, with more recent tracks such as ‘Matilda’ earning equal response to more established offerings such as ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’, the latter providing some brief respite before the mosh pit that erupted during ‘Four Chords’ opens once more and now seemingly takes up about a quarter of the floor below.
‘Scorpian Hill’ signifies a shift into the final stretch of the show. Taken from the excellent third record Morbid Stuff, it’s a joyous and calamitous affair that sees crowd surfers surge forward on top of a baying a crowd. The eponymous ‘Morbid Stuff’ comes next, eliciting a huge reaction from the mass of bodies below us.
What’s most surprising tonight, aside from the huge number of people in attendance, is the lack of an encore. An upbeat and anarchic ‘Kids’ closes the bands set, and moments we’re left blinking and sweating into the bright houselights of the venue. Breathless maybe, but safe in the knowledge that PUP are on an upward trajectory showing no sign of slowing down.
More from PUP can be found on their website, Facebook and Twitter.
Dave Beech is a music writer based out of Manchester. He writes and edits for a number of different websites and links to his work can be found over at his blog, Life’s A Beech, as well as his Louder Than War author’s archive. He also tweets as @Dave__Beech.