Simple Plan Slays ‘No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls’ Live 15 Years Later

CREDIT: Stephanie Smith

Nostalgia is something that can always be counted on. It comes in waves and in various different forms, but for better or worse, it is always there for you. In terms of music, nostalgia is king. A certain band, artist, song, lyric, or album can take you back to places and times in your life of sadness or pure joy. This music helps reignite feelings you may have forgot existed and helps you express emotions in ways you didn’t necessarily believe were possible.

What has been really working for the music industry over recent years is our culture’s obsession with nostalgia. We want to travel back to other periods in our lives when we were younger and likely had fewer responsibilities. Back in 2002, when Simple Plan released their stellar and hilariously named debut album No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls, many of us were just trying to get through school and figure ourselves out. Sure, some of that time was awkward, but it was a journey that needed to be taken and Simple Plan just happened to be there for our formative years.

Many bands from that era are back on the road and finding relevance by touring behind their older and more successful albums. It’s a tried and true formula that doesn’t seem to be getting stale at the moment. This method of reconnecting with older fans is even bringing newer fans to the fold, which was showcased at the House of Blues in San Diego, CA where Simple Plan performed and celebrated the 15th anniversary of No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls.

It didn’t matter if you were a hardcore fan, or just discovered the band, everyone jumped off their feet when the band hit the stage and launched into “I’d Do Anything”. The song itself is one of Simple Plan’s biggest hits and carries as big a punch now as it did 15 years ago when it was in high rotation on MTV. In fact, the album spawned three other big hits that played on radio and MTV including “I’m Just a Kid”, “Addicted”, and the emo-anthem “Perfect”. However, in this crowd, on this night, you would have thought that every song the band played was a hit single. Fan’s voices singing nearly drowned out the band and frontman Pierre Bouvier.

CREDIT: Stephanie Smith

“We are really throwing it back tonight. We are throwing it back to 2002. This album was released before Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!” Bouvier exclaimed. It’s amazing to think that the social networks we live on didn’t even exist when the band’s debut album came out.

After the band finished tearing through the album and left the stage, they came back and had some more hits to get out. They launched into “Shut Up!”, “Jump”, and “Crazy” from their sophomore LP Still Not Getting Any…, and afterward the band took the time to thank the fans and crew for an amazing tour that ended in San Diego this night.

“Whether you know this or not, we’ve been putting out music ever since 2002. We haven’t stopped and we won’t be stopping any time soon”, Bouvier told the crowd, while standing literally in the middle of it. He went on to explain that through all the albums and tours, the band itself has always remained intact with the same members, which is quite the feat these days. After the sentimental moment, the band closed with “Welcome to My Life”, which is arguably their biggest hit back from 2004. As the song and set came to a close, the band had jubilant and appreciative looks. No one in that audience left with anything but a smile on their face. From the early 2000’s mix of songs that played prior to the band hitting the stage to the last note, the crowd sang every word and that energy helped feed everyone in that audience, as well as the band.

CREDIT: Stephanie Smith

Will No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls go down as one of the greatest albums of all time? Doubtful. But, to hear it performed live in its entirety 15 years after its release, you can’t help but notice that it has staying power and is well deserving of this tour, celebration and sold out shows across the country. It’s just fun.

Simple Plan isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel or blast back onto the charts, they just want to bring their high-energy pop-punk to a world that could use a bit of a getaway from itself, and it’s welcomed. Simple Plan accomplished their mission. They wanted to go back in time and fans were more than willing to help them. It’s always fun to take a look back at older music from your youth and see how far you’ve come. Sometimes you just have to take the time to do so and press play.