@ Newcastle o2 Academy II, March 27 2010

There are some bands out there that are all about having fun. Whatever the situation they play with a smile on their face and are always cracking jokes on stage.

Bowling For Soup have it, Blink 182 used to have it and Zebrahead define it.  Zebrahead are a typical feel good band and like their compatriots Bowling For Soup they don’t take themselves seriously.

In many ways that is a brilliant quality to have and on the flipside it can be perceived as childish behaviour from people old enough to know better.  Nonetheless Zebrahead rolled into a sold out Academy 2 with a sense of fun stuck to them.

Zebrahead brought with them supports MC Lars and Orange.  MC Lars managed to ‘entertain’ the audience by rapping about relevant issues of the day like illegal downloading and the scourge of American clothes giant ‘Hot Topic’.

In doing this he managed to annihilate classic songs by both Brand New and Iggy Pop – to say it was sacrilege would be an understatement.  Zebrahead, on the other hand, arrived with an abundance of energy entering to the sounds of the theme song from Team America which was an excellent comedic touch.

The intimate setting of the Academy 2 provided the ideal opportunity for Zebrahead to get up and close with their adoring public.  The opening provided the audience with a signal of things to come but the band reverted to a somewhat tacky version of Britney Spear’s hit Oops I Did It Again which was almost cringeworthy. Punk covers are usually awful but this one took the biscuit.

But the American five-some pulled it back with excellent renditions of Into You and Hello Tomorrow.  It makes you wonder that if a band can write songs of this calibre why play terrible covers?

Lead singer Ali Tabatabee endeared himself to the crowd by regaling them with a tale of how their tour manager was left “drunk under the table” by a group of Englishmen.

And the jokes continued. But y now they were backed up with solid songs and Tabatabee confessed the band were “too lazy” to walk off for an encore and treated the audience to the excellent Juggernaut.

Bodies flew throughout and the closing favourites that were Anthem and The Set-Up saw bassist Ben Osmundson enjoy a crowdsurf in the arms of the sweating masses.

Music is supposed to be about fun and Zebrahead perfectly demonstrated that it’s still okay to play music with a smile on your face.

Tom Walsh