Kudos are definitely due to Rise Against for bringing over one of the best punk rock tours to hit these shores in a long time. The venue may be only half full by the time the Cancer Bats hit the stage, but vocalist Liam Cormier clearly doesn’t care as he bounces around the stage like a punk rock cheerleader.
The quartet’s potent brand of stoner punk sounds impressive enough on record, but in the live setting, it’s nothing short of brutal; the thunderous rumble of ‘Hundred Grand Canyon‘ deservedly whipping up a small but chaotic pit in the centre of the dancefloor.
Trust the Bronx to go one step further, with singer Matt Caughthran actually clambering into the midst of the sweaty masses for a couple of songs. There’s an almost tangible sense of danger to this lot; not least in the way that songs like ‘White Guilt‘ constantly threaten to collapse into sheer sonic warfare, and not even Matt’s terrible dancing can take away from the intensity of an all-too-brief set that remains utterly thrilling throughout. God bless The Bronx; may they forever remain a marketing department’s worst nightmare.
Only the bravest (or most foolish) of souls would dare follow these guys onstage, and tonight Rise Against aren’t quite up to the task. They give it their all, mind; bursting through the likes of ‘Chamber The Cartridge‘ and ‘Black Masks And Gasoline‘ with no little conviction, and vocalist Tim McIlrath is clearly delighted to be playing his band’s biggest UK headline show to date.
The sound is spot on, and new guitarist Zach Blair is evidently more than comfortable in the RA fold, but ultimately it’s their misfortune to be merely good on a night when their support bands ooze pure punk rock excellence.
Photos by Niki Kova’cs