BAD RELIGION + Rise Against @ Metropolis

By Oli Pulleybank - Boozehound Radio - 11/02/04

November 2nd saw a completely different kind of punk rock show hit Montreal (see Suicide Machines review). Waving the flag of anger, intellegence, reason and disbelief, Bad Religion came into town and rocked La Belle Provence with some left-wing indignation. After openers Rise Against played 6 songs for a total of 20 minutes (?), the crowd was given a half-hour to cool their heels before the lights finally dimmed. The band walked out on to the dark stage and began to play the overture (yeah I know, what punk band has a fucking overture?) from their new album The Empire Strikes First, and the crowd geared up for what they knew was coming next, the blistering track "Sinister Rouge".

The reaction the band got for "Sinster Rouge", the first real track off their new album, kind of showed exactly what is so amazing about this band. After almost 25 years of playing punk rock, the fact that they could write a song that is faster, angrier, catchier and smarter than almost any other punk song of 2004 should put all the new bands to shame. What amazed me was that the crowd reaction was as strong, if not stronger, for songs off their last two albums than it was for their old hits. "God's Love" got as many fists in the air as their classic "You", and "God's Love" wasn't even in a Tony Hawk game! They played for an hour, mixing a lot of new stuff with some of the old stuff, but interestingly they didn't stick to just the old classics. Songs like "Modern Man" and "Come Join Us", though solid songs, wouldn't wind up on any greatest hits album, but fit in perfectly with the set.

Ultimately, as a reviewer I am pretty biased because I've always had a thing for Bad Religion, and their 1996 Album The Gray Race was the first CD I ever bought, so yeah, it is no surprise that I thought the show rocked. But I still think that this is a band whose message is important, whose songs are great and whose show is fantastic. To see lead singer Greg Graffin, a late 30's college professor with a PHD in biology, screaming out the chorus to "Fuck Armageddon This Is Hell" is a treat no matter who you are. Catch them next time because though they're pushing 40, they haven't lost it at all and are still one of the best live punk acts out there.

Download Sinister Rouge from the Bad Religion official website. Tune in to Oliver O'Pulleyblank on Boozehound Radio Sundays from 6-8pm, which delivers first-rate counselling to alcoholics everywhere.