American Football’s return after a 17-year hiatus might just be the most anticipated in alternative rock this year – at least that’s what the crowd at their Concorde 2 show would have you believe.

Three-quarters full and with an enthusiasm that lasts the evening, the crowd’s energy at Concorde 2 was palpable, reaching crescendo when Mike Kinsella – frontman of American Football and the sole member of support act Owen – took the stage. Reminiscent of early Dashboard Confessional, his melodic vocals weaved cleverly between uneven guitar picking. That being said, despite a chaotic mixing of time signatures being a key component of American Football’s experimental writing style, it doesn’t feel quite as intentional when Kinsella plays it live.

It’s something that continued long after all three members of American Football took the stage, though all the decent qualities of Owen – the melodic vocals and guitar – are emphasised with the full band. The other more experimental notes – for example the unexpected incorporation of a trumpet and glockenspiel throughout the set – worked well too, though they are were a little gimmicky. The crowd certainly didn’t seem to mind anyway, as Kinsella’s brass solo was received with raucous applause.

However, it’s difficult to get past the changing time signatures, which even the band seemed to struggle to keep up with. It’s a difficult thing to forgive when it was their experimental nature that made them stand out against the onslaught (and resulting white noise) of early 2000s emo in the first place. Mistakes were made, at least three or four times, each with Kinsella shrugging them off with a faux nonchalance not expectant of a man over 40. Because of this, even Kinsella’s self-deprecating asides go stale – though these would probably have worked well on their debut outings 17 or so years ago.

Sadly, it’s reflective of the band’s long hiatus. While its members have had time to develop their sound outside of American Football, once back inside it, it’s as though nothing has really changed since the turn of the millennium. The music’s fine, and it’s played fairly well, however the sounds and lyrics are all the same. There’s little sign of growth, where it would have been nice to see something new and with a little more depth considering almost two decades have passed since they released their debut.

Fortunately the crowd at Concorde 2 was very much in the mood for nostalgia.