The recent buzz around Against Me! is one of a band ‘selling-out’ and once again a hugely talented act is presumably disowned by the scene they helped to create.
Yes, shock horror, a punk band has tried to do something different and, in all fairness, their latest album White Crosses is one of the finest records the Florida four-piece has produced.
However, despite this condemnation by a section of old punks who still claim that every band’s old stuff is the “the best they’ve ever written”, Against Me! have never lost their superb stage shows. Once again they didn’t disappoint as they rolled into the excellent and intimate surroundings of Manchester’s third Academy.
After support act Canterbury shuffled off the anticipation for Against Me! began to grow as the band hadn’t graced these shores since 2008. And with the ‘UK tour’ being confined to three dates it just added the anticipation.
Thanks to the fact White Crosses had been leaked on the internet a month prior to its release, the band were confident of playing a good amount of new tracks to an audience that had already become accustomed to them.
Front man Tom Gabel strode out with a beaming grin plastered across his face before launching into High Pressure Low sending the crowd into pandemonium. After opening with something new Gabel and co dipped into their back catalogue and pulled out the gem that is Pints of Guinness Makes You Strong. It’s song which the purists would say is their finest work and was met with sheer delirium by the highly passionate fans.
The special thing about an Against Me! show is that the action just never stops: it’s an intense experience for band and audience alike. The band hit you with song after song after song and with excellent renditions of New Wave and Don’t Lose Touch they show their prowess as one of the finest live acts in punk rock today.
This audience seemed not to care if their band ‘sold out’ and appreciate every song like it was an anthem for their lives. Against Me! are still the same band that wanted to overthrow the establishment as they were in the early days – the only difference is that bands want to progress and challenge themselves further.
And as the band crack out I Was A Teenage Anarchist they show that they aren’t a band that will always remain the same. Gabel, now pouring with sweat, even treats the audience to one of his solo songs in the shape of Amputations.
A pulsating 75 minutes is brought to a close with White People For Peace and the truly fantastic Thrash Unreal. Against Me! exit to rapturous applause and are demanded back to the stage by a hero-worshipping crowd and Gabel duly delivers.
Kicking into the encore with Rapid Decompression before closing the evening with government baiting Baby, I’m An Anarchist, a tribute to everyone that has ever wanted to rebel against the system.
This was, by far, one of the finest shows to ever grace the intimate surroundings of this small corner of Manchester and as the audience left covered in blood, sweat and beer they knew that this was still the Against Me! they knew and loved from the very beginning.
The sound may have changed but the message remained clear and Against Me! demonstrated why they are one of the finest live acts you will ever have the pleasure of witnessing. Forget the haters, this band will forever be punk.