Live Reviews

LIVE REVIEW: Rise Against, The Story So Far, O2 Academy Brixton, 21/11/2022

Photo Credit: Nedda Afsari

The last time Chicago punks Rise Against ripped up the sloping floors of Brixton’s infamous dome shaped O2 Academy, it was when the bands eighth album Wolves; a record which stood in rebellion with those who give a damn, but gave much needed hope for an otherwise pessimistic looking future was doing the touring rounds circa 2017. Now back a long awaited five years later and the echoes of blistering passion, rallying of the troops and wholehearted devotion hasn’t been dampened, dimmed or died down ever since, these punk-rock legends proving that time is just temporary, but class, dignity and timelessness is forever permanent. 

Whilst five years ago Gen Z’s answer to emo royalty Sleeping With Sirens could be seen to be supporting Rise Against back in 2017, before the band’s frontman Kellin Quinn became one half of a TikTok sensation of the resurgence of Pierce The Veil anthem King For A Day, this time around Californian pop-punkers The Story So Far find themselves following in their footsteps. “We’ve been a band for a long time, but every time we play together it feels like it’s for the first time. This is special London” starts The Story So Far’s Parker Cannon, fifteen years in the making and rising up through the ranks of modern pop-punk graduates State Champs, Real Friends and Four Years Strong is no easy feat, yet The Story So Far find themselves staring out into a packed-out o2 Academy, their efforts, sacrifices and staple pop-punk catchiness clearly paying off. And whilst the band might be on the cusp of wrapping up an extensive EU and UK run with Rise Against, with just two dates remaining in Manchester and Birmingham, this time next year, the band will be hitting the road with punk-rock royalty Blink-182, this Rise Against support slot feeling like a warm up for what is about to unfold further into their future. 8.5/10

To a backdrop of a fist in a love heart, Rise Against arrive onto O2 Academy Brixton’s stage demanding complete command kicking straight into speedy opener Re-Education (Through Labour) with a sense of fearlessness, attack and bassist Joe Principe representing nearly every straight edge punk bands roots via a classic vegan venom tee. Quick to realise their self-missed presence from Brixton’s Academy, frontman Tim McIlrath points out “This is the longest we’ve been away from your city. We’ve missed you,” and whilst the UK welcomed Rise Against back to the hollow grounds of Donington Park earlier this year for Download Festival, London has been begging for Rise Against for five long years and finally got the wish back in the venue where they left last, “It feels good to be back on these hollow grounds right?”.

One thing that Rise Against’s latest LP Nowhere Generation hails is that whilst the governments and higher authorities have the power, it’s the youth of today on the frontline fighting for a better future in numbers. That is a similarity a Rise Against show shares in its powerful gathering of committed fans, relentlessly keeping the pit energy, lovingly clinging onto signs that say “Rise Against saves lives” and fist pumping enthusiasm start to finish from The Sufferer And The Witness’ Ready To Fall through to The Black Market’s Tragedy + Time and Siren Song Of The Counter Culture’s Blood To Bleed through to Revolutions Per Minute’s Like The Angel. 

Whilst the Nowhere Generation tour boasted no heavy live content from the album, the aim of this touring cycle to have interchangeable setlists each night of rarely performed Rise Against songs, it wouldn’t be a Rise Against show without songs such as Satellite, McIlrath shouting into his megaphone an impassioned speech on the bands reoccurring return to the city of London, “This song is a confirmation of who we are. This is why we keep coming back to London, to see your faces for fucking thirty years,” or the acoustic pairing of Swing Life Away and Hero Of War, the spotlight shining firmly on McIlrath and the teary eyed faces of fans to closer Saviour; the biggest pit starter of the night, but before then penultimate track Make It Stop (Septembers Children) provided a moment where the lights dimmed and in the songs extended shadows stood four black arm band wearing figures that have dominated the pink rock scene for three decades, their politically charged voice remaining one that will always shout louder than the rest. 9.5/10

Written By: Katie Conway-Flood

Katie Conway-Flood
⚫️Music Journo @bringthenoiseuk @discoveredmag @gigwise ⚫️Brewdog Crew @brewdogshepbush ⚫️Band Enthusiast ⚫️Vegan