riseagainstbandsmall@ Newcastle o2 Academy, November 18 2009

American punk-rock spectacle Rise Against took to the main stage to face a modestly sized crowd, supported by Poison The Well and a surprisingly solid set from Thursday. And the Chicago boys, influenced by bands such as Minor Threat, Black Flag and Descendents,  made their fans wait – finally appearing at 9.20pm after 25 minutes of the sound guys fiddling around following Thursday’s set.

Initially the performance simply plodded along. This seemingly self-centred band failed entirely to interact with the crowd or utter even one word in between songs. But all of that changed, in time.

Slowly but surely Rise Against appeared to warm to the crowd. And an initially subdued crowd responded – to such an extent that midway through the set there was joyous leaping and the passing of the mic to fans. The turnaround was remarkable but maybe it was meant to be.

Ingeniously, the band had composed their set list to please everyone in the room, opening with a song off the newest album Appeal To Reason, which was released in the UK last year, followed by the real crowd pleaser, State Of The Union from Siren Song Of The Counter-Culture. From then on every other song was a song off the most recent album, complemented by an older song, which spurred the vast crowd on evermore with fans unable and unwilling to contain their glee.

 Towards the end of the night the quartet did the generic act of walking off stage for no apparent reason, then coming back on to ‘everybody’s surprise’ to play a short acoustic set with their nostalgic Swing Life Away and politically charged Hero Of War encouraging lighters and fluorescent screens alike.

Rise Against finished off a standard set with the popular Give It All and Ready To Fall, but there was a sense that something was lacking. Although the band boasted boundless energy, they crucially lacked a bond with the crowd. And after years of anticipating seeing them perform, this disjointed display just didn’t feel special.

Chiara Giordano