Fall Out Boy are no strangers to Leeds, but this is the emo stalwarts’ first time headlining the festival – something the band’s bassist/charisma generator Pete Wentz hails as “a fucking dream come true.” Job-sharing the top slot with Biffy Clyro, here they bring a typically slick mix of fireworks, balloons and a subtle tribute to Bowie to Bramham Park.
Opening with ‘The Phoenix’, they’re flanked by a troupe of flame-brandishing backing dancers, who resemble a cross between a post-apocalyptic Cirque du Soleil and a Torture Garden-style Pan’s People. Wide-screen blockbuster pop such as the R&B-inflected ‘Irresistible’ and the ‘Tom’s Diner’-filching ‘Centuries’ sit easily next to the likes of the spiky ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down’, allowing the crowd to relive the days of MySpace Top Eights. Fans in FOB hockey masks lose their shit to ‘This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race’, the disco undertow of which acted as a gateway drug to the band’s current direction.
Midway through, a grand piano is wheeled on. Subsumed in dry ice, singer Patrick Stump – clad in a trilby and sporting glittery eye make-up – belts out ‘Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes’, which gives way to ‘Save Rock And Roll’ – their 2013 Elton John team up (sadly, alas without Reg). Ziggy Stardust lightning bolts flash onscreen, then pictures of Bowie himself, while Stump sings its lyrics “Oh no we won’t go/’Cause we don’t know how to quit no, no‘ with impassioned sincerity. It’s a touching tribute, albeit slightly undermined by the procession of girls flashing their boobs on the main screen to leery, beery whoops. It’s akin to the Oscar audience suddenly mooning during the ‘In Memoriam’ montage.
Though older and cast as an emo-DILF, Wentz’s stage patter remains aimed at empowering outsider teenagers (“It’s so humbling to be in front of you guys. I’m certain without a doubt there’s a kid making art right here who will headline this festival ten years from now”; “Just so you know, you’re not your school, you’re not your career, you’re not your religion”), while electro-bangers like ‘Uma Thurman’ and ‘American Beauty/American Psycho’ go straight for the mainstream jugular, wielding choruses precision-tooled for festivals. With Wentz scaling the barrier to serenade audience members and ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)’ unleashing eye-brow-singeing pyrotechnics, Fall Out Boy proved they still have a special place in the hearts of Leeds.