Live Concert Review

Against Me!

Live (September 19th, 2010)

Edmonton Event Centre - Edmonton, Alberta
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For the second time this year, Against Me! rolled into town; although this time they were headlining instead of opening for Billy Talent and were touring in support of White Crosses, not in anticipation of it.

It’s a minute detail for sure, but an important one nonetheless; for that difference enabled Against Me! to put on a drastically different show – although not in the way you may have expected. For back in March when they played at Rexall, a hundred days before White Crosses was legally available, Against Me!pretty much only played new songs. In their thirty-five minute set, all but two cuts were from their new album which made them new for not only the people who had never heard of them before but for their hardcore fans too.

This time, well after the release of White Crosses, they only played five cuts from the album and instead dove deep into their back catalogue. Their old school fans ate it up- it was evident that they would as soon as they jumped into Pints of Guinness Make You Strong after the opening cut of High Pressure Low.Their transitions were perfect, as they switched from songs like Suffocation to Don’t Lose Touch and into Cliché Guevara without a moment’s hesitation.

There’s no denying that the albums – from Reinventing Axl Rose to White Crosses – are all different in their own way but in their live show, it all fits together. Every song was Against Me! to a T. The band was in total control, having fun and with a sturdy stage presence – even when they pulled out a full band version of Gabel’s solo song Amputations for the first song of the encore.  The only difference, instead, was from the crowd’s reactions to the different songs.

A friend of mine who attended the Calgary show put it best saying “it seemed that most of the “hardcore” AM fans have faded away and instead have been replaced by lukewarm radio listeners who just want to hear the singles.” So there you had it, the older fans came out for the older material while the newer fans sang with the new material – which created a very varied tempo in the pit from Reinventing Axl Rose to Stop.

But throughout it all, the band remained constant, confident and strong.  It was a band on top of their game, switching between new and old without pause. Yes, they missed a few songs I wanted to hear (Because of The Shame, Baby Im An Anarchist, Problems and Walking Is Still Honest were a few of the glaring omissions) but Rice and Bread, TSR and Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists came as nice surprises.

Will Against Me! ever be able to recreate the chaotic joy that they had at the Dinwoodie Lounge a few years back? After all, anyone who went to that show, will surely still have fond memories from it. Sadly, it’s unlikely. The crowd has changed and evolved along with – as some people would argue – the band; which changes the tempo and atmosphere of the concert. But that still didn’t take away from the fact that Against Me! are still putting on one of the better punk shows around.