Night one of NOFX’s last ever European tour perfectly illustrates why Fat Mike’s crew will be treasured forever as true punk rock rebels

NOFX launch their '40 years, 40 Cities, 40 Songs Per Day' European tour in Barcelona, and remind us why they're the greatest punk band of their generation

NOFX, onstage in Barcelona, May 19, 2023
(Image: © Matt Stocks)

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When any band announces a final tour nowadays, we take such declarations with a mountain of salt. Black Sabbath. Kiss. Mötley Crüe. All bands who’ve rinsed the whole “final tour” concept for every last dime. Even Texan pop-punkers Bowling For Soup got in on the action back in 2013 - only to return to the live music scene in 2016. Just last week, Sum 41 declared their retirement from touring with a final run of shows planned for the not-too-distant future. I guess this is growing up. 

So when legendary So-Cal punk rockers NOFX declared last year that they were calling time on their acclaimed 40 year career, the news was met with a certain amount of scepticism. Presumably this was another of punk rock provocateur Fat Mike's little jokes? But no, when this writer spoke with NOFX's band leader hot off the heels of said surprise announcement, he assured me of his group’s intentions.

“I need it to end,” he told me. “I’m tired of being Fat Mike on stage. There’s so many other things I want to do in life. Every show on this last tour will be completely different. I’m so excited to play them. It’s going to be really special. And we’re not doing the whole Black Sabbath/Mötley Crüe thing. On October 6, 2024 in LA, that will be the last time NOFX ever plays.”  

Time will tell. But one thing remains undisputed at this stage in the game: if this is indeed the end, NOFX are going out on the highest of all highs – drug-related puns aside. 

This writer has been lucky enough to have seen the band (rounded out by guitarists Eric Melvin and El Hefe and drummer Erik “Smelly” Sandin, plus touring keyboardist Karina Denike) live on countless occasions over the last 25 years. During that time, their performances have ranged from sublime to shitty. NOFX themselves would be the first to tell you that professionalism and consistency have never been high on the agenda. This, after all, is the band who called their first live album, I Heard They Suck Live. And as Fat Mike sings on the opening track to Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing, 60%, a song that’s become something of an overall mission statement for the band, “I'm not here to entertain you, I'm here to meet my friend the Russian, the Irish, the German, the Colombian. I don't care how bad I fuck up, I care about how fucked up I get. I'm not your clown, I'm your dealer.”

So imagine the crowd’s surprise when NOFX take to the stage at Poble Espanyol in Barcelona for the first of their final European shows, and we’re greeted by a well-oiled, finely tuned, actually in-tune machine. 

By Fat Mike’s own admission, the band have been rehearsing. As a result, they’re remarkably well prepared for the occasion. It’s evident that they care about putting on a great show, too. And there’s an overriding sense of humility, commitment and gratitude on display throughout the band’s epic two-and-a-half hour set that’s been hitherto hidden beneath a sea of self-deprecating humour and schtick. 

All of that’s still here in abundance, of course. Topped up with a healthy dose of bad taste banter and politically incorrect jokes. Some things never change. Nor would we ever want them to. But NOFX are clearly intent on giving their fans nothing short of 110% tonight, and this evening’s show is by far and away the best this writer has ever seen them play.

With three gigs across the weekend and different records scheduled to be performed in their entirety alongside sample selections from the greatest songs ever written (by them), tonight’s crowd is treated to a haphazard hybrid of two all-time classic albums - So Long & Thanks For All The Shoes and White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean - and an additional assortment of nuggets from one of the best back catalogues in punk rock. 

The setlist alone is enough to lay claim to the fact that NOFX are indeed the greatest and most important punk band of their generation, the likes of which we will never see again. And if the scenes from tonight’s sold out crowd confirm anything, it’s that this band mean an awful lot to an awful lot of people. There’s going to be a great big NOFX-shaped hole in our hearts once they’re gone. So long, fellas. And thanks for all the shoes. 

Barcelona: Night One set list

Intro/ Stickin In My Eye
Murder in C
Punk Rock Elite
All Outta Angst
Soul Doubt
You're Bleeding
Straight Edge
Liza and Louise
The Bag
Eat the Meek
Kill Rockstars
Dads Bad News
Fuck the Kids
I'm Telling Tim
Cant Get the Stink Out
Please Play This Song
6 Years On Dope
Days n Daze
Green Corn
Six Pack Girls
Quart in Session
180 Degrees
Flossing a Dead Horse
All His Suits
Falling in Love
Champs Elysee
Desperations Gone
Johnny Appleseed
I Wanna Be Your Baby
She's gone
Church and Skate
Kill All the White Man

Matt Stocks

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.