THE BIG TOP, LUNA PARK SYDNEY
21 SEPTEMBER 2012
Greeting the crowd of adoring fans at his feet, lead vocalist Joel Madden announces: “Damn, it feels good to be in Sydney.” The feeling’s mutual. Last Friday night, the pop-punk quintet known as Good Charlotte took to the stage at Luna Park Sydney’s Big Top.
Like all rock shows, the aim of the night was to jump around and have a good time. The band’s opening number, “The Anthem”, achieved just that, energizing the crowd into a fist-pumping frenzy. The boys from Maryland maintained the enthusiasm by alternating between old and new favourites, from 2002’s “Riot Girl” to the upbeat “Like It’s Her Birthday” off their most recent album, Cardiology. “It kind of feels like it’s somebody’s birthday,” guitarist Benji Madden teased, to a swarm of cheers. “Wait, it’s that many of your birthday[s]?”
The setlist reflected the diversity of the audience as well, with a mixture of fleeting and long-time fans. Most was partial to the band’s newer, club-friendlier tracks, along with well-known classics such as “The Young & The Hopeless”. The concert also featured some light-hearted Madden brothers banter, with Joel at one point telling Benji that he wasn’t doing a substantial job. “It’s bugging the hell out of me. You’re not playing the guitar very well tonight and you’re not singing very good tonight, Benj,” he joked, to which the crowd chanted, “Benji! Benji!” It is the band’s playful, cheeky attitude that only adds to their appeal.
The night hit a sentimental note when halfway through the set, Benji played two acoustic songs, “Emotionless” and “Beautiful Place”, on his lonesome. The former, an open letter to his then estranged father, served as a reminder of the band’s roots and how far they’ve come, from growing up under less-than-ideal circumstances to international recognition.
Bassist Paul Thomas, guitarist/keyboardist Billy Martin, drummer Dean Butterworth and Joel returned to the stage with their debut single, “Little Things”, which chronicles the challenges of high school, not fitting in and failing to attract girls. The band’s platinum single, “Dance Floor Anthem”, and 2004 hit “I Just Wanna Live” reignited the flame and left the audience wanting more. Finally, the encore, consisting of club favourite “Last Night” (made famous by Seven’s Downton Abbey, no doubt) and “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” capped off a spectacular night.
Good Charlotte is one of those bands you rush out to see not because it’s the cool thing to do, but because you want to relive and create good times and enjoy the moment. Emerging from the venue and being welcomed with the bright lights and childhood memories of Luna Park, exhausted yet exhilarated, it’s hard not to feel like a kid again who’s just had their first ice-cream cone.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★