A four-piece backing band wander onto the stage at the Mondo Water Rats, and launch into John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. It’s a spot-on take: they’ve got chops, and a great sax player. Patrick Stump bounds onto stage, and a youthful audience scream for the second sold-out night in a row.
This is not how you might have expected a solo show from the former Fall Out Boy frontman to kick off, but it sets the tone: Stump isn’t afraid to explore, experiment, and challenge his young audience.
An early rendition of EP-opener 'Porcelain' shows off the main foundations of Stump’s new solo material: his growing expertise as a producer, and his voice. Musically, Stump’s moving into more soulful territory, his songwriting showing stronger pop influences than ever; the best of the new tracks are tight, snappy, with the dense vocal harmonies of the recorded tracks well-preserved by the group.
It’s a logical progression from material in his previous band; the massed choruses of later FOB albums are still to be found, and the crowd’s enthusiasm for these make for a raucous encore of 'Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)'. Of course, the problem for any musician with just one (unreleased) album to perform is how to pad out the setlists for a first tour. The logical solution is “cover versions”. Stump provides us with a superb take on Kanye's 'All of The Lights' as well as Cobra Starship's 'Kiss My Sass', though, as expected, no FOB material.
It was easy to forget in the shadow of FOB comrade Pete Wentz just what a performer Stump is. But here, frontman to his own material, he shows that he’s not just a talented musician and songwriter - he’s a great showman, as comfortable in this tiny venue, looking his audience right in the eye, as on the larger venues his previous projects toured. It’s also telling how well he and his band play _together_: there was no hint of session players lazily thrown together, but clearly a group of peers having fun with one another.
It’s unlikely Stump will ever perform such small UK venues again, but for the meantime, it was a treat to see such an assured, confident, exciting performer up so close. Patrick Stump survived The Scene, then. A Giant Step indeed.