Wednesday 25 October 2023, 7:30pm - 11pm
The Nick Rayns LCR, UEA
please note: the accessible viewing area for this show is now FULL
+ lost alone
14+ (under 16s to be accompanied by an over 18)
SHOW 2 - 2nd November Norwich date HERE
Seven No.01 singles. Six albums, two of them chart-toppers. One hiatus. One reunion. Hundreds of shows. Thousands of fans. Millions of streams. Countless awards. After all of that, McFly still have one question for you.
Where Did All The Guitars Go?
Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones, Harry Judd and Dougie Poynter are taking things into their own hands in a way they never anticipated. Throwing off the shackles of expectations, focusing on the things they love the most about making music together and delivering their biggest, boldest and most brilliantly noisy statement yet. That statement is 'Power To Play', an all-out celebration of rock music in all forms that takes McFly back to the very reason they started their journey in the first place. "I think that we have got to a place where we have simplified the process, removed the hurdles and started to write music the way we used to," Harry smiles.
"We have production talent, songwriting talent, design talent, everything we could ever need in this band. All the possibilities in the world are at our fingertips. By stripping away everything that was extra and setting up as the bare bones of McFly, it allowed us to go and write the best rock songs we could."
But reaching this place didn't just happen overnight. It's a culmination of many different moments over the last few years that have allowed the band to feel this open, honest and driven.
First up, they built McFly HQ, the first genuine basecamp the quartet have had in their whole career. A studio, a practice space, a hangout spot and a home away from home all rolled into one. The band had a place where they could jam songs from start to finish, fleshing out ideas as they went instead of stopping and starting. With all their stage equipment and gear in one place and the means to record everything they created immediately; they could capture the magic as it happened rather than trying to recreate it further down the line. Letting each member express themselves live and direct, the benefits were instantly infinite.
"The only time we would be able to play like this before was in rehearsals and on tour," Danny remarks. "That's why we loved it so much because we're doing what we do best. We had moments in time captured forever, and that's where the magic lies. The space has all allowed us to be a band again."
The effects of the pandemic were still reverberating through their minds whilst their space was coming together. It wasn’t just that they were trying to create 2020's 'Young Dumb Thrills, their first body of work in 11 years, but what it meant for their lives away from the band. In spending more time at home, it had allowed them to focus on the importance of the little things, the things that make life wonderful, confirming that if they were going to be a band, it had to be worth them stepping away from their other responsibilities for.
"It put everything into perspective," Tom nods. "Because you're looking after yourself and your family and all the things that are important in life whilst spending so much time at home, it was a weird time to be trying to create an album. And 'Young Dumb Thrills' was us not knowing if we could record an album again and just seeing what happened, so it never really felt like a cohesive thing. So, we wanted the next step, if we made it, to be an album that had a sound and actually stood for something."
Being able to get back on the road, and finally getting to tour 'Young Dumb Thrills' also helped to fuel that creative fire. From packing the Avalon stage to bursting point at Glastonbury to surprising pop-punk fans at Slam Dunk Festival, and with a sold-out arena tour across the UK to boot too, through to making their way back over to Brazil for the first time in a decade, every show reminded them why they love this band and the community they have created so much. It also allowed them to focus on their guitars, making their back catalogue sound as fast, fun, and fierce as they possibly could.
"All those shows were spiritual in a way," Dougie remembers. "We were playing shows again for the first time since coming back, so it felt like we were doing everything again for the very first time. The amount of gratitude I felt, I don't think I have ever felt that way before. For me, this is my entire purpose and playing live cements that. You can't escape music. It has this magical ability to do things to you that nothing else can. That's the thing that will always pull you back.
And the final piece of the puzzle was the realisation that they didn't owe anything to anybody. Off the back of their reunion in 2019, beautifully chronicled in their 2020 documentary 'All About Us', the four realised how they could live their lives away from McFly in a way that it could be the cherry on top rather than the whole cake. "We're a different band now than we were," Tom muses. "We all know there is life outside of McFly now, and when we were young, it consumed our lives so much. It needed to, but it was a lot. Returning to the band after discovering who we are without it, we saw that we are better together. That's why the band needs to be fun now. It needs to have a reason for us to be together."
This all culminates in 'Power To Play', a record where the fun really is at the forefront. There's hair metal cheese, glam rock glitter, heavy metal attitude and punk snottiness, all wrapped tightly into a carefree and cartoonish shell. There are hints of Van Halen, Metallica, Poison, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, and even a bit of Fugazi thrown in for good measure. Produced by Danny alongside Jason Perry, with help from friends old and new James Bay and Steven Battelle, it is a record built on pure collaboration bringing the best out of everyone. There's the all-out worship of 'God of Rock & Roll' and wind-through-your-hair liberation of 'Taking Back Tonight' rubbing shoulders with the vulnerable 'Make It Out Alive' and furious 'I'm Fine'. There's synth-led euphoria with 'Route 55' and reckless abandon via 'Land Of The Bees'. It is the sound of four best friends being best friends, pushing each other to the limits of their creation and celebrating the results. Playing as loud and lairy as they like and not worrying about the consequences, experimenting with time signatures and song structures that would have terrified the younger versions of themselves and loving every second spent together, the band have never felt this unstoppable.
"Guitars, honesty, energy, all of these personality traits are what give us the band's identity," Danny enthuses. "We want to reach that kid with long hair, get them excited about music and make them want to pick up a guitar and jump on their bed. That's what this record is about."
"I can't think of anything else I enjoy more than sharing music with people," Dougie smiles. "There's nothing about this band, and this record, that I don't love. It all tells a story, and it's all for the sole reason of making somebody feel the way that I feel whilst making it. Pure happiness."
"McFly is different to all of us. We all see it through very different eyes, Tom explains. "Not just how we make stuff, but how we want our shows to be. But that's what I adore about us too. Everybody brings a different flavour to McFly, all with different aspirations and inspirations. And I feel like we all feel fortunate to still be in a band like that and know that people out there want to watch us play and see what we can make together."
"I believe that there is a huge proportion of our fans where this will be their favourite McFly album," Harry adds enthusiastically. Even for the McFly fans who like the more pop-swing side of our sound, there's stuff in there for them to love too. But ultimately, we are saying, 'Fuck it' and doing precisely what we want, and that feels so good."
To do what you want is to be playful. To play is to have fun, and to have fun is to feel alive. If it takes pushing the limits of your power to make fun a possibility, then you push as hard as possible. Because life is all about the things that make us shine. A song, a film, a piece of art. They are what matter the most, and if these past few years have taught us anything, they are the things we have when we have nothing else.
That's why McFly are using their time the way they are now and why a record like 'Power To Play' is so vital for them. It's the core of what it means to create these songs that can last a lifetime. To indulge in what makes their hearts and souls glisten more than anything else. To share that joy and wonder with the world, hoping it will affect somebody else similarly. And to be in that place in your 20th year as a band is an extraordinary place to be.
So, do you have the power?
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