Papa Roach @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – 5 October 2017

Further to Jacoby Shaddix’s recent vocal cord surgery Papa Roach hit the UK in support of their ninth studio album ‘Crooked Teeth’ and to confirm a healthy return to touring.

Californian rockers Papa Roach are a band full of energy, eager not only to enjoy themselves but to please their loyal fans. Opening up with the title track from their latest album ‘Crooked Teeth’, frontman Jacoby Shaddix mounts his ego riser, flanked by the ever shape-pulling, guitar maestro Jerry Horton and fully charged bassist Tobin Esperance.

Steaming into ‘Getting Away With Murder’ and ‘Between Angels and Insects’, this is a band at full tilt, along with a Birmingham crowd well and truly along for the ride. Able to rely on a stable set of classics, more recent material cements the continued evolution of Papa Roach. The industrial electronica of ‘Face Everything and Rise’ is followed by a taster of something brand new with ‘Geronimo’, more a nu-metal offering which has multi-instrumentalist and touring member Anthony Esperance beating the merry hell out of a floor tom.

Around Europe for the last five weeks, video footage has been shot for ‘Born for Greatness’, and tonight is no different. Desperate to be part of it, virtually every hand is in the air, followed by a wave of surfers heading towards the stage. “You guys are mental!” screams Jacoby, a compliment they appreciate for sure.

“Are there any old-school Papa Roach fans out there?” is a query to bring on a reliably thundering version of ‘She Loves Me Not’ – the only song to come from the 2002 album ‘Lovehatetragedy’ tonight. Jacoby introduces the band prior to ‘Scars’, which from the opening line “I tear my heart open …” gets a huge singalong. This is prior to a brief lull in proceedings with the lighter numbers ‘Periscope’ and ‘Gravity’.

Coming out of left-field is a cover of Blur’s ‘Song 2’, which is OK but to be perfectly honest should make way for something in-house. Perhaps a little too old-school for my own good, or just more metal than Britpop, I would much prefer to hear the likes of ‘Broken Home’ or ‘Time and Time Again’.

Early in September reports and videos began to surface about the Papa Roach tribute to Chester Bennington, with Linkin Park’s ‘In The End’ attached to their own ‘Forever’. Despite the expectation, it’s certainly emotional, and you can’t knock the message and encouragement from Jacoby Shaddix for anybody with mental health issues to seek help. “We’ve lost some good ones this year” he says, with a tip of his hat to late greats Chris Cornell and Tom Petty.

There’s an emotionally charged slow version of ‘Lifeline’ before the up-tempo, but equally as dark anthem ‘Help’ finishes with the band leaving the stage to a three-minute sonic hum. They return for a last batch which includes ‘None of the Above’ and the much-craved infestation of ‘Dead Cell’ and ‘Last Resort’. “You’ve been the craziest crowd on this tour Birmingham!” says Jacoby “And it’s the first time I’ve said that!” he insists.

‘To Be Loved’ completes the show and a very satisfied crowd leaves the O2 Academy with the final chants of “whoah-oh-oh” ringing in their ears. I guess satisfaction was always guaranteed, as nearly a quarter of a century into their existence (yes, really!) Papa Roach have become seasoned pros, always delivering and always entertaining.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston

Papa Roach