Back in July 2018 This Wild Life And William Ryan Key made the announcement that they were going on a co-headline tour together, a tour which sees the two acts playing across 16 different cities and towns across the UK and Europe and it happens to be the first time This Wild Life have toured the UK in over two years and also the first time William Ryan Key has toured the UK since releasing a duo of solo EP’s.
I headed down to the Thekla in Bristol tonight to catch one of the last shows of the tour and as I made my way into the venue there was a steady crowd waiting for William Ryan Key to take to the stage and moments later he took to the stage and went straight into the sleepy yet catchy sounding ‘Mortar And Stone’ from his latest EP ‘Virtue’ and looking around the crowd as he opened his set so many people were staring at the stage, some singing-a-long word for word and others just appreciating that William Ryan Key has the balls to do his own thing and not play a whole Yellowcard rip off set .
Next up was a cover of the classic Yellowcard song played in a very stripped back acoustic format which went down really well with the crowd, after playing the song William Ryan Key spoke to the crowd firstly to explain that he may well of been known as Ryan Key in Yellowcard and he hasn’t just shoved a William on the front of his name, it is his actual name and that he wanted his solo material to be different to that of Yellowcard and being called by his full name was the best way to do that and secondly his Grandad was called William so it also acts as a tribute to him. He also spoke to say that the majority of the set on his solo tour is made up of songs from his EP’s but he has also included an handful of Yellowcard songs with two being classics that people wouldn’t forgive him for if they weren’t played and three being songs that Yellowcard never ever played live.
The likes of ‘Vultures’, ‘Old Friends’, ‘ Great Unknown’, ‘The Bowery’, ‘Downtown (Up North)’ were really good to hear live as each and every one of these solo songs showcase how talented William Ryan Key is as a song writing and secondly shows that in such a short space of time he has mastered his solo sound and created songs which sound as laid back yet fun both on record and on the live circuit.
The later part of the set had back to back Yellowcard songs which saw the likes of ‘Keeper’, ‘MSK’ ‘Fields And Fences’ and ‘Ocean Avenue’ played all in a stripped back format but with a big of banging throughout as Anthony Del Grosso from This Wild Life joined Wiiliam Ryan Key on stage to help out with the drumming. The Yellowcard songs sounded fantastic live and went down extremely well with the crowd and it was a pleasure to hear ‘MSK’ and ‘Fields And Fences’ live as both songs were up their amongst my favourites on the bands last couple of albums.
‘Ocean Avenue’ had a massive sing-a-long from the crowd which was to be expected and when the song came to a close everyone thought that was the end of the set as the song would always be the set closer for Yellowcard, and William Ryan Key made a joke of saying for once the show is not being closed by ‘Ocean Avenue’ as he introduced and played ‘Virtue’ the title track from his latest EP and his favourite solo track he has written to date in his opinion.
Up next were This Wild Life and just before they came on, the stage was decorated with a big banner featuring the image from their latest album ‘Petaluma’ whilst fake flowers were dotted around the stage and seconds latest the duo of Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso took to the stage and got the party started from the off as they partied through ‘Concrete’ and ‘Positively Negative’ in a big energetic way.
This Wild Life are solid musicians and straight up entertainers and they showed off this side of the band as they played ‘Puppy Love’ with frontman Kevin Jordan announcing to the crowd that hes been on tour for 3 weeks and that he misses his dog and wants everyone to show him pictures of their dogs, and before the song ended the venue was like a sea of mobile phones as so many people held their phone up showing pictures of dogs as Kevin Jordan carefully looked at some of the phones and jokingly told people their dogs were scruffy, old, looked like a cat etc.
As the set progressed Kevin Jordan spoke to the crowd and said “you must be thinking why do we have sunflowers all over the stage and why are we the only people wearing Hawaiian shirts in the middle of winter” he then went on to announce that they released their latest album ‘Petaluma’ back in June 2018 and that they are going to spend the next 12 months touring it and that the majority of tonight’s set will feature songs from that album, and that it did with the likes of ‘Westside’, ‘Hold You Here’, ‘Catie Rae’, ‘Headfirst’ all being played from that album in an infectious acoustic way.
Towards the end of the set Anthony Del Grosso changed the stage set up around the bit by taking his drums apart and relocating them in separate pieces towards the front of the stage, whilst he did this Kevin Jordan got his ukulele out and played a short rendition of Blink 182’s ‘What’s My Age Again’ and ‘First Dates’ which perfectly continued the summer vibe.
Overall tonight was such a great gig, William Ryan Key proved that there is a place for him in the music scene after Yellowcard and it was great to see so many people enjoy his solo material and respect his decision to not just play a Yellowcard tribute set. This Wild Life clearly brought the party tonight and brightened up a very wet Bristol with their fancy stage set up, Hawaiian shirts and upbeat songs and I just hope that we don’t have to wait to long for both William Ryan Key and This Wild Life to return to the UK.
Willaim Ryan Key 5/5
This Wild Life 5/5
Review By Trigger