Live Report: Slam Dunk Festival 2022

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In 2013, Neck Deep performed their first-ever Slam Dunk as the winner of a fan-voted contest. Nine years later, Ben Barlow would go on to tell that story to a much bigger crowd, now as the headliners of the whole damn thing.

Their set tonight is the start of their 10th anniversary celebrations, and what a way to start. The Wrexham gang arrive amid a cloud of smoke in an extremely determined mood, charging through the new single STFU with a keen sense of attack. The remaining 65 minutes are a joyous celebration of Neck Deep’s past and present, with just the right amount of sentimentality and unlimited amounts of fun. They dusted off the old favorites. What did you expect? and Over And Over as a tribute to their origins, and give A Part Of Me a new shine by playing it on an electric guitar.

The rhythm between Ben’s songs is more idiosyncratic and witty than ever – “Please save your battery in case you need to call your mum,” he jokes as he asks the crowd to wave the their phone lights up in the air – a reminder that they’ve come here with a combination of big personality, big heart and big tunes.

All in all, it’s triumphant. Moral of this story? In Ben’s own words, “Throw a band in your fucking room and live the dream you want to live.” (EW)

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