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at: London Astoria

November 25th, 2008 · post by imelda · 1 Comment

Date of the event: 16/11/08

Just a few more songs and it’s all over” says Tim Armstrong with an air of melancholy, about half way through the last show of Rancid’s UK tour.

rancid10-thumb.jpgIt’s the last of three nights in a row that London’s Astoria has played host to the Californian punk legends. There’s an air of anticipation, celebration and a distinct feeling of no one wanting it to be over, as the crowd sing, dance and punch the air with almost constant fervour throughout the set.

Rancid at the Astoria, Sunday November 16th, 2008. Photo by Imelda Michalczyk.Rancid’s only recent release has been their ‘B sides and C sides’ collection (which, incidentally, the merchandise man sold out of before Rancid even hit the stage tonight) and it’s a long five years since ‘Indestructible’, the last studio album. So one might expect that the band would be justified in playing a thoroughly obscure set tonight – pulling out oddities from the out-takes album and testing out new material from the hotly anticipated, soon to be released new record.

Not at all. Instead, we are treated to a truly luxurious trip through the group’s mighty back catalogue, with almost every crowd-pleasing favourite rock’n'rolled out for our sweaty pleasure. From the opener of early single ‘Radio’, through a setlist heavily drawn from 1995’s justifiably classic ‘…And Out Come The Wolves’ – including ‘Old Friend’, ‘Roots Radicals’, ‘She’s Automatic’ and ‘Maxwell Murder’, there isn’t a moment to relax or zone out. Rancid at the Astoria, Sunday November 16th, 2008. Photo by Imelda Michalczyk.Aside from a healthy dose of early material like ‘Salvation’, which still sounds curiously un-dated, the night is peppered with late 90s gems like ‘Hoover St’ and ‘Who’d Have Thought’ and accessibly upbeat more recent material such as ‘Fall Back Down’, plus the always special treat of the much loved Operation Ivy shoutalong ‘Knowledge’. We are treated to Rancid at their energetic best.

With no extra musicians on this tour, just the four-strong core group, every song is still surprisingly fresh and powerful. Though without extra back-up it’s perhaps no wonder that songs from the keyboard-heavy, guest-filled ‘Life Won’t Wait’ album are thinner on the ground.

Tim and co-frontman Lars Frederiksen move around the stage constantly, with high jumps from Tim that could shame the fitness levels of some much younger bands. Whilst a mini-speech about equality for all – in terms of race, sexual preference, gender and religious leaning – from Lars draws approval from the crowd. Rancid at the Astoria, Sunday November 16th, 2008. Photo by Imelda Michalczyk.We’re reminded why we love Rancid so much – they mix a still vital message and ethos with energy, power and damn catchy songs. We feel we can believe in Rancid – there’s something honest and heartening about their very existence. I remember seeing an old interview in which Lars described them as a “family first, a band second”. There’s something you just have to respect about Rancid, whether you’re a devotee or not.

Rancid at the Astoria, Sunday November 16th, 2008. Photo by Imelda Michalczyk.I first saw them ten years ago when they played the Reading festival. They were on the main stage in the middle of the afternoon on a boiling hot day and I remember the incredible reaction from the crowd; more energy than I think I’ve ever seen that early in the day at a festival. Their ability to inspire, it seems, is unwavering and tonight the crowd sing back the lyrics to the band and I see huge smiles on the faces around me.

Rancid at the Astoria, Sunday November 16th, 2008. Photo by Imelda Michalczyk.Last time they were in town they played the much larger Brixton Academy. Whatever their reasons for going with the smaller, more atmospheric Astoria, it’s a joy to see Rancid making the effort to play three nights at this venue, rather than just one at a bigger place where the band become half-hidden stick figures from many parts of the crowd.

Tonight the group end with a raucous singalong in the shape of ‘Ruby Soho’. But no one’s going home until they’ve heard ‘Time Bomb’ and sure enough, the band return for a blistering encore of the ska-punk favourite.

As they leave the stage I think I hear them shout out ’see you next year’ above the screams and clapping. I certainly hope so.

This tour may be over but the buzzing sense of having witnessed something special continues. Rancid – still radical after all these years…

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1 response so far

  • Nuno posted:
    Feb 17, 2009 at 2:59 am. Comment #1

    I got a Ryanair flight from Portugal to London just to see Rancid. It was JUST GREAT! I love that gig!

    Hope to see them again!

    Oh… For me, Rancid are The Clash of the 90’s! Don’t you agree?