The Offspring + Simple Plan @ Bell Centre

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Thanks to the dreaded Montreal traffic, I’m still collecting my ticket at the Box Office by the time Simple Plan arrive on stage, but just hearing I’d Do Anything and Shut Up through the walls is enough to send me back 20 years and ramp up the excitement for tonight’s show even more.  As I arrive at my seat and witness the spectacle before me, it’s clear that this is the very definition of a co-headline tour; Simple Plan are already torching the cavernous Bell Centre, and it’s barely past 7pm!  The band are already on Jump, and the floor is duly obliging, with frontman Pierre Bouvier conducting a perfectly orchestrated pogo across the room, his voice sounding exactly the same as it did 20 years ago.  Jet Lag sees a special guest appearance by another hometown hero, Marie Mai, who sings her parts in French to really make it feel like home, flying around the stage throughout with the same energy as Pierre to keep the place jumping.  Welcome To My Life is another total emo nostalgia trip and is greeted with a huge singalong to every chorus, arms waving around the room; the kind of reception afforded to headliners for sure.

Summer Paradise brings a welcome return to the warm summer vibes now long behind us for another 6 months, with beach balls bouncing atop the crowd for the duration, before Pierre pays tribute to tonight’s other headliners: “when I was 13 years old, I discovered The Offspring; I wanna be there with you in the crowd because this is where I belong!”  Cue next song, “Where I Belong.”  Is that a Dad joke, Pierre??

After aging us all with the terrifying fact that debut record No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls is 20 years old this year, the emo anthem I’m Just A Kid resonates around the enthralled Bell Centre.  Drummer Chuck Comeau crowd surfs and high-fives around the floor before returning to the stage to declare, “there’s no place like home!!!”  Perfect closes out the set, starting with just Pierre on an acoustic guitar, proclaiming, “Montréal, on vous aime!” as the room illuminates with phone lights.  The rest of the band soon join the anthem to close out the stellar homecoming after an hour.

Simple Plan Setlist

  1. I’d Do Anything
  2. Shut Up!
  3. Jump
  4. Jet Lag (with Marie Mai)
  5. Your Love Is a Lie
  6. Addicted
  7. Welcome to My Life
  8. Iconic
  9. Summer Paradise
  10. All Star / Sk8er Boi / Mr. Brightside
  11. What’s New Scooby Doo
  12. Where I Belong
  13. I’m Just a Kid
  14. Perfect

On any other night, you might consider Simple Plan to be the elder statesman of punk rock, but they still look like babies compared to The Offspring.  As they arrive on stage and barrel into the classic Come Out And Play and All I Want, its evident that time has not been as kind to Dexter’s voice as it has to Pierre’s.  Over the top of the roaring drums and guitars, it sounds like somewhat of a struggle to reach the notes he did when those songs were first laid down.  On I Want You Bad, it sounds like Dexter is aware of the struggle, as he seems to tone down his voice a little and avoid the competition altogether.  However, by the time the intro to Bad Habit rolls around, normal service is resumed.  Without any other instruments to battle against, Dexter drawls out the classic “Hey man, you know, I’m really OK…” intro verse note-perfect.  It’s spectacular.  Of course, when the rest of the band do join the party, the decibels jump back up, and the floor goes nuts.  Having crowd-surfed even for the newer, comparatively unknown new songs, the floor resembles a disturbed ants nest once Dexter spits the “stupid, dumbsh*t…” outro line!

Dexter briefly leaves the stage to let Noodles take over the show, which leads to a fairly weird next few minutes.  Noodles has some kinda riff-off with a virtual animated version of himself on the big screen (which is presumably played by a guitar tech in the shadows at the back?).  It’s a little awkward, and nobody really knows what to do in the meantime.  Still, Dexter is soon back, and normal service is resumed.  After a cover of Blitzkrieg Bop and the classic Gotta Get Away get things back on track, the show strips down to just Dexter at a piano for a poignant Gone Away.  Dexter implores the crowd to light up their phones if they lost someone dear to them during COVID; the blinding specks of light all around the Bell Centre make a fitting tribute.

Why Don’t You Get A Job? follows and marks a total mood shift, as huge balloons drop from the rafters onto the top of the crowd to bring back the party mood, though they are more content to rip them apart than bounce them around, apparently!  After the obligatory band intro (who knew Josh Freese played drums for The Offspring these days?!), the main set closes out triumphantly with the breakthrough Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) and the timeless The Kids Aren’t Alright, and a timely reminder of why The Offspring are one of the most important bands in punk rock history.  Closing out the encore with Self Esteem only reaffirms that.  

A storming 90 minutes; I expected nothing less!  Before leaving the stage, Noodles declares, “you guys were incredible; best show in North America so far!”  Sounds about right from where I was sitting!

The Offspring Setlist

  1. Come Out and Play
  2. All I Want
  3. Want You Bad
  4. Let the Bad Times Roll
  5. Staring at the Sun
  6. Coming for You
  7. Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell
  8. Hit That
  9. Hammerhead
  10. Bad Habit
  11. Master of Puppets / Paranoid / The Trooper (Noodles and the band instrumental)
  12. In the Hall of the Mountain King (Edvard Grieg cover) (Noodles solo)
  13. Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones cover)
  14. Gotta Get Away
  15. Gone Away 
  16. Why Don’t You Get a Job?
  17. (Can’t Get My) Head Around You
  18. Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)
  19. The Kids Aren’t Alright


  1. You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid
  2. Self Esteem

Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Pierre Bourgault

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