The Rise Against UK Roundup

Over the past week, the Chicago punks Rise Against have been travelling up and down Britain touring the latest album The Black Market. But because we're global jetsetters and love a bit of a travel, we're not just giving you the review of the London date – but a gallery from Manchester too!

Review from Brixton O2 Academy

Tonight offers a very interesting duality into the fracturing nature of punk rock. Before former underground-heroes-turned-major-league-international-touring-behemoth Rise Against take to the stage we get a support slot from skate punk godfathers Pennywise [9]. It’s a set that is many things: fast, raw, loose, unpredictable and just plain old punk as fuck, but it splits the crowd into those that are really familiar with the roots of the headliners and those that are not. Those that are head straight to the front and roar every line of Jim Lindberg’s vocals back at him during the evergreen likes of Same Old Story, Perfect People and Society.

The longer Pennywise are onstage, the more the casuals seem to become wrapped up in their simple yet irresistible anthems of rebellion. As Fuck Authority ends and bassist Randy Bradbury plucks out the unmistakable opening to Bro Hymn it’s practically like watching a headline set. Everyone in Brixton screams the ‘whoah-ohs’ to the sky and the band depart having reminded the world that warp speed, melodic punk rock can still be a force to be reckoned with. Top draw.

Rise Against [7] deserve a lot of credit for taking a band like Pennywise out on tour with them now that they have mutated into what we see tonight. Hardened fans will know where the band came from; many years ago they would have populated small, dingy clubs with Pennywise playing above them. Now though we get a slick, super-tight set of radio rock friendly hits, a massive stage and light show all performed in front of thousands of their hardcore zealots. Obviously if your only exposure to ‘punk’ is the nauseating likes of Simple Plan, All Time Low or All American Rejects then Rise Against must seem like the fastest and most dangerous punk rock band on the planet. But for those who remember them in their early days, where they would have comfortably been grouped in alongside their support, this is definitely more rock than punk. It’s a bit nicer, a bit safer, a bit less snot and saliva. And the fact that they come on for, not just one, but two encores is a worryingly Hollywood move.

That’s not to say that Rise Against are a bad band, far from it, every single song you hear tonight sounds like a smash. When they drop into Re-Education (Through Labor) finding someone not singing along would be harder than finding a needle in a haystack. Tim McIlrath is a whirling ball of energy of a frontman, be it pressed up against the lip of the stage thrashing at his guitar or diving into the crowd so they can add back up to his already impassioned wails. The band are equally as energetic, with their neon light backdrop spelling out the word ‘rise’ it all looks amazing onstage, and the sound improves dramatically from the first couple of songs so that every instrument hits with the crispness and clarity necessary. Yep, Rise Against are a star turn and an event of a band, that cannot be argued.

No-one doubts the integrity of Rise Against. No-one can say that they haven’t paid their dues or that they don’t have the tunes or talent to sell out venues of this magnitude. What you could argue though is that they are tip-toeing dangerously close to some of the clichés that punk set out to destroy. That said, if they keep encouraging the younger generation to listen to Pennywise then we’ll let them off.

Setlist from Brixton O2 Academy

Ready to Fall Give It All Re-Education (Through Labor) Behind Closed Doors Tragedy + Time The Good Left Undone Like The Angel I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore Help Is On The Way Chamber The Cartridge Last Chance Blueprint Prayer Of The Refugee Alive And Well Audience Of One Satellite People Live Here Swing Life Away Make It Stop (September’s Children) Savior

Gallery from Manchester O2 Apollo

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.