Cardiff Castle was the venue for last night’s gig as Avril Lavigne and Simple Plan took thousands of people back to their childhood, celebrating more than two decades of hits.

It was the first time I’ve seen a gig at the castle – and it seemed to be a focal point for the acts who all mentioned how amazing it was - and I was extremely pleased as it was one of the best shows that I’ve seen.

Before we were taken back to our childhoods with the aforementioned acts, we first had one of Los Angeles’ newest talents in alternative artist Phem. Phem had previously toured the UK with Avril and returned for this short run of dates to the delight of those who had previously seen her. Performing as a duo, Phem showed her diversity with a range of songs including my favourite American Beauty, Silly Putty and recently released single Donuts.

Phem kicked off the showPhem kicked off the show (Image: Newsquest)

The sound for her set was on point – something I have noticed has been an issue with a number of outdoor gigs but the engineers worked wonders last night – and Phem showed off her talents by taking to the drums for a cover of Teenage Dirtbag.

Next up, it was time to get the party started with Simple Plan. Having been a fan for 22 years, I was delighted that this would be my second time this year to see them, and it was unsurprisingly great fun.

The Canadians wasted no time in ramping up the energy, coming on to the Main Theme from Star Wars and getting the crowd involved as they powered through some of their top hits including I’d Do Anything, Shut Up, Jump!, Welcome to My Life and Summer Paradise.

There was a nice surprise as they brought out the talented Airxyel for the female vocals in Jet Lag. Pierre spoke about how it had been too long since they last played Cardiff and vowed to come back - which we will of course hold him to!

With Summer Paradise, we had the customary bombardment of beach balls to add to that summer beach vibe before Simple Plan showed they are the party kings with a cover of All Star and Mr Brightside getting everyone going. They kept this up as they were joined on stage by five Scooby Doo’s for What’s New Scooby Doo?

There was more carnage with I’m Just a Kid as after the customary pause for a crowd photo, frontman Pierre Bouvier took to the drums as drummer Chuck Comeau took to ‘frontman’ duties, but instead chose to crowd surf and hi-5 as many people as he could, leaving guitarist/vocalist Sébastien Lefebvre to continue the vocal duties.

Simple Plan got the party startedSimple Plan got the party started (Image: Newsquest)

It was then finally time for the main event as a video montage begins to play on Avril’s heart background before the band jumps into Girlfriend, delighting the crowd who scream every lyric back.

Avril is on her Greatest Hits tour so it was a wall-to-wall set of absolute mammoth hits including What the Hell, first single Complicated, and ending the main set with Sk8er Boi. Throughout the set she was extremely engaging with the crowd, thanking everyone for their support over the last 22 years but it was evident that there were some tech issues throughout the majority of the performance, although this did not affect the sound at all.

Alongside some of her biggest hits were some more modern favourites including Bite Me, What the Hell and Love it When You Hate Me – which saw Avril come down to the crowd.

Halfway through the set, there was a video montage from the Let Go era, showing a young Avril as she rose to stardom and a fun ‘Facetime’ with Simple Plan to get them out to perform their hit Addicted (which was notably missing from their earlier set). The dual performance was great and Avril and Pierre chose four lucky fans to join them on stage and they all had a chance to sing and were given signed Avril skateboards. During the song, they said how they last played in the city on tour together 20 years ago.

It was an unusual move for the encore but Avril slowed things right down with a beautiful video montage before re-appearing in a stunning white outfit for three of her ballads – Head Above Water, When You’re Gone and closing with I’m With You.