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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Social Distortion/Dave Hause/Chris Devotion and the Expectations - Glasgow Garage - 22/08/12

For one reason (finances) or another (finances) I've never made the pilgrimage to the big smoke to see Social Distortion.
Their star and mine have never aligned in the heavens, and very often I thought that they would be one of those bands on my 'I really gotta see them' list that I wouldn't.
So when they announced their very first date in Scotland I was all over it.
Tickets were secured and the waiting game was played.
In the run up to it friends from all over the UK caught them playing at the Rebellion festival and the universal opinion was that their performance was drab, slow and misguided.
I'll admit that it was the last thing I wanted to hear.
I'd waited a very long time to see these guys, and a substandard show wasn't something that I was wanting to contemplate.
On the day itself there was a bit of a buzz, but not a lot as the ghost of the Rebellion performance seemed to loom large and cast a depressive dark shadow over everything.

Thankfully it didn't manage to get past the doors of the Garage though, and inside the venue the excitement was palpable.
Chris Devotion and The Expectations were up first and ran through much of the many highlights of there debut album 'Amalgamation and Capital' to great effect.
To call them a support band does them a real disservice.
Instead they're a headliner looking for a larger stage and an audience.
I suspect that they wont be waiting long.
They certainly have the songs, musical ability and attitude to turn peoples heads.
In parts they're echoing the Phil Spector girl band sound as filtered through the Ramones, but with better backing vocals than 'Da Brudders', and at others they're kicking the shit of of a Woody Guthrie cover.
Their whole set is on fire from start to finish.
For an opening act they set the bar very high and I could easily imagine Dave Hause standing in the wings asking himself how he could follow such a performance.

Not that Dave Hause would really have been fazed as he's been treading the boards for a while now. He knows the score and has paid his dues over and over.
It takes balls to stand on a large stage alone with only an acoustic between you and an audience.
There's no band mates to lean on, and no one to carry you.
It's raw and exposed, but Dave has it nailed down.
Like a few others who are rooted in a punk background, but have moved into acoustic blue collar rock, or country, he has an impassioned approach to his material.
It's people like him who are playing what could be described as 'the real deal'.
There's no rock by numbers aspect to it and no attempt to dilute the punk angle on the music.
While some are happy to push punk into a uniformed ghetto it's Dave Hause, Cory Branan and the like who are displaying the real punk ethos of doing what they want and disallowing anyone to limit how they express themselves.
It works to great effect as well.
Everything sounds alive. The veins in his neck are popping and he pushes the lyrics hard.
The audience lap it up.
Especially when he sings his Loved Ones track 'Jane' with the audience screaming back 'alright, alright'.
It's one of those defining moments when everything clicks into place and everything does actually feel 'alright' with the world.
I was in two minds about going to see the Gaslight Anthem later on in the year, but Dave might have swayed me as I'm told he's on the bill to.

Then there was the moment that everyone had been waiting for.
From where I'm standing I can see Mike Ness shaking his arms out like a boxer at the side of the stage, then he's ducking and diving a bit, shadow boxing and throwing punches.
He's was looking good.
Like he had stepped from the set of Angels With Dirty Faces.
As The Beastie Boys regale us with No Sleep til Brooklyn Social Distortion walk onto the stage and it's all business.
I'd previously said that if they didn't play 'I Was Wrong' I would be immensely displeased, but it's the first song of the set and immediately every nagging doubt that the band would fail to deliver vanished in seconds.
They were on fire, and so was the Glasgow crowd.
It not long into the set before you could see Mike Ness visibly relax.
Maybe he'd read some of the negative press about Blackpool and was just a little concerned about another gig that was out of the bands comfort zone that is London.
He needn't have been.
By bringing his A game its a legendary comeback for the band.
While some of the Rebellion faithful claimed they had seen a band on the ropes here was one shaking the lead from their tired legs and going for the knock-out to silence their critics.
The may as well opened by bellowing that tonight no prisoners will be taken.
The effort they put into the show is returned in kind, and all around me voices are raised as they sing along, and it looks like a mile wide smile is tattooed on the face of virtually everyone in attendance.
It's a best of set with a few songs thrown in from the latest album and it's lapped up greedily.
There's very little showbiz flash.
It's really just nose to the grindstone rock and roll. Dirt under the fingernails stuff.
Halfway through the night Mike Ness is drenched in sweat and you can see it dripping from his elbows and splashing onto the stage.
The energy he was exerting could have powered a small town.
It's to the bands credit that they not only made it to the end of the night without collapsing, but returned to deliver the coupe de grace that was Folsom Prison Blues and Ring OF Fire.

In my head I have an image of them all sitting backstage in the aftermath of the show and Mike asking someone to get in contact with their manager and ask why the fuck no one told him about his Scottish fans.
I would be surprised if the miss us out on any subsequent European tours.


  1. Spot on as always Mainy, here's hoping they return to Scotland without us having to wait another 20+ years.

  2. have they ever played her at all? I was under the impression that they hadn't.

  3. Can you tell I was typing that with one finger while talking to someone else.

    Have they ever played here at all it should say.

  4. First time ever in Scotland.I had been waiting 30 years or so for this.Well worth the wait. Gotta be one of the best if not the best band i've ever seen. good review by the way.

  5. Thank you. I certainly had a ball at it.

  6. Good review, I had seen them twice in London - no match for the show above, Scott