With an iPhone in hand and a media pass around my neck, I entered the Zepp KL hall at 7.45pm for Simple Plan’s Harder Than it Looks concert, titled after their sixth and latest studio album. For a full-house event, the hall was rather empty at first as the crowd hadn’t filled up (most of them were probably caught in heavy traffic as it was a Wednesday, smack in the middle of the week), but by the time our own Fly FM announcers Juanita (The Fly FM JoKeRs in the Morning) and Natalie (Fly 45 with Natalie) took to the stage, fans have started to stream in steadily through the doors.
The ladies got the crowd pumped-up before introducing the opening act Air Yel, a fellow Canadian who has been touring with the band and she proves exactly why! Sporting a cool split-dyed hair – half black, half white – she grabbed the audience’s attention from the get-go with her guitar, charismatic stage presence and unwavering vocals. She continued to command the stage as she pranced around performing an original number called Wondering, as well as covers of Paramore and Coldplay. Also, her new song is coming out on Spotify today so be sure to look out for it!
And then, the moment everyone was waiting for finally arrived as the band exploded onto the stage with their 2002 hit I’d Do Anything – before diving in with yet another fan favourite Shut Up! Having been around for more than 24 years, the band’s performance remains as young and energetic as ever, matching the energy of the ecstatic full-house crowd of more than 2400 fans despite having performed in Singapore just the night before. Pierre Bouvier’s vocals soared above the pumping and thrashing of the rest of the band’s instruments, with Jeff Stinco on lead guitar, Chuck Comeau on drums, and Sébastien Lefebvre on rhythm guitar. It really feels like no time has passed since I was, well, eleven.
Another huge moment was when Malaysian singer Vanessa Reynauld shared the stage with the band to perform Jet Lag, filling in for Natasha Bedingfield. Their chemistry is on point, despite coming from different musical genres. Vanessa’s jazzy timbre merges seamlessly with Pierre’s pop-punk vocals, earning her a loud applause from the crowd.
The charge in the air then shifted slightly to make way for the broody Your Love is a Lie, a forlorn single about infidelity from their third self-titled album, before charging back up with Addicted. And not to forget, the teenage angst anthem Welcome to My Life was also included in the setlist, much to the crowd’s excitement before the band introduced their new release, Iconic – a pulsing number with an infectious beat and a mean guitar riff.
Various other new tracks from their latest offering were included, such as Antidote, Wake Me Up (When This Nightmare’s Over), and Congratulations. While the band has graduated from their teenage rebellion lyrics, they stayed true to their punk-rock roots while still channeling the same emotions of frustration and yearning that any young adult who have grown up with the band can relate to.
Aside from their top-notch showmanship, the band does not forget to engage with the friendly crowd – by tossing gigantic beach balls! Yep, huge beach balls were tossed back and forth from the stage between the band and the crowd, which I managed to bounce back with the very tip of my fingers. This is part of their beach-vibed hit Summer Paradise, inspired by Pierre’s passion for surfing.
View this post on Instagram
While the venue is small, it allowed for a more intimate setting. Pierre expressed his love for Malaysia multiple times with a heavily accented “Saya Cinta Awak”, and that he was pleasantly surprised by the crowd’s well-behaviour and genuine interest in enjoying the music. He also took the time to thank the fans for their loyalty and for keeping Simple Plan around for 20 years. And Chuck Comeau, being Chuck, took the chance to stage-dive into the crowd!
As the concert geared towards the end, the band performed a perfectly crafted medley of nostalgic sing-alongs: All Star by Smashmouth, Sk8er Boi by Avril Lavigne, and Mr Brightside by The Killers, with the crowd singing at the top of their lungs. Two more fan favourites were performed that night – the angsty, punk-rock I’m Just a Kid and Crazy, with a gorgeous encore of an acoustic Untitled, flowing smoothly into the highly-anticipated Perfect accompanied by a rain of confetti.
View this post on Instagram
The band also expressed desires of returning to Malaysia again soon, and here’s hoping they stick to their word! Because we will be waiting 🤘
*Cover image and images via Instagram @syafiqahazelan