Rise Against - Liverpool 02 Academy
Live Review

Rise Against – Liverpool 02 Academy

You’d think that the rowdy, political nettle grappling Pennsylvanian punks Anti-Flag would have ran out of angst, bemusement and things to stand up against, given that their country now has the President they so sorely wanted and that the Steelers won the Super Bowl this year. Bleach haired bellowing bassist, Chris Barker soon puts paid to that idea, as he struts onto stage and implores everyone to;
“Raise Your middle Fingers!”

The salute that followed could have graced any trooping of the colours. It leads neatly into the old school punk tirade, ‘Fuck Police Brutality’. Justin Sane’s combative vocals lead the battle cry and most importantly he delivers it with his usual spit and gusto, demonstrating that Anti-Flag still stand up against injustice and they still believe that it’s still out there.

Their main motto for the last 21 or so years appears to have been one of uniting as a community against the ills of world and its politicians, something that the poignant British punk rooted ‘Fuck War Let’s Party’ puts into a nutshell. Suddenly their spirited vigour reaches out and spreads around like…? Well, war actually, as the room starts bouncing.

Even the forays into pop punk like ‘Turncoat’, still have an edge to them with Pat Thetic’s bulleting percussion and Sane’s sincerity keeping it from falling into a sappy pit, it is the thumping anthem that the evening needs.

Variety is splattered around in the haunting interlude inclusive, ‘Good And Ready’ that shows a smoother edge to Sane’s Vocals before an ad-libbed cover of ‘I Fought The Law’, spews out nostalgia as though they were reading from a George Orwell novel. This offering from the last year’s spirited The Bright Lights of America’, is as popularly received as the now old classics.

These forty five minutes highlights Anti-Flag’s continuing importance to modern punk.
A chilling voice over blares out political insight and rebellion, Tim McIlrath and his insurrection inciting buddies who conjoin to make Rise Against , dive full force into 2006’s ‘Drones’, setting the mood for their heart-on-sleeve, insightful and forceful interpretation of punk.

This energy and verve is channelled straight into the post-rock pushed, Thursday feeling ‘Ready To Fall’, as the piercing ‘The Sufferer & the Witness’ album is drawn from again. Grit, sincerity and energy are in abundance and this is harnessed by an exuberant, catharsis indulging Monday night crowd. McIllrath’s vocal range lends heart and versatility to a stirring set.

However, for a band of Rise Against’s standing the big test is always the new numbers. It is the response to these that should be used to gauge the band’s ability to keep on building their range and standing. Latest single, ‘Audience Of One’ bears out their personal side unveiling a more polished touch and lending a universal appeal to proceedings.

Erstwhile bassist and co-founder member Joe Principe is, as always, sturdy and reliable in punctuating the stark political commentary of the band. These political observations are now beginning to feel have the feel of an alternative encyclopaedia, given Rise Against’s prolific tendency over the years to highlight what’s going on in the world. His contribution to the hardcore cutting, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ is captivating in the way that he controls the pace, volume and rhythm.

Emo titling, ‘Re Education (Through Labor)’ still retains its thrust with a pit forming in appreciation and energy levels continue to rise with help from the Bad Religion mirroring, ‘Heaven Knows’.Variety is doled out with help from the psychobilly skirting, ‘Collapse’ and those who like to be able to think about the song and its lyrics meditate over the bracing, ‘The Good Left Undone’.

Naturally, the Wal-Mart bating ‘Prayer of the Refugee’, keeps enthusiasm levels ticking over nicely. Rise Against, through this spirited live performance tonight continue to bolster their reputation as inclusive punks who attitude still burns bright.



Rating; 4/5

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