Social Distortion – Live (April 16th, 2012)
Live (April 16th, 2012) - Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, BC
With over thirty years under their belts, Social Distortion have been around the block more than a few times. Their style was so unique it created a new classification dubbed “cow-punk” which was pushed forward with Mike Ness’ signature voice and attitude. Ness and the gang brought that style and swagger with them last night at the Commodore Ballroom for the first of two sold out evenings in Vancouver.
Sporting a black suit and top hat, Ness stepped onto the stage with a confidence that only thirty years in the business can give you. With an elaborate collection of random knickknacks on the stage behind them (traffic signs, intersection lights, and an inflatable dog for example), Social Distortion had their persona down pat as they jumped into the one-two punch of I Was Wrong and the b-side Far Behind and got the crowd moving.
Ness let the music do the talking and rarely took breaks to banter with the audience and when they played Machine Gun Blues, Gimme The Sweet and Lowdown, Sick Boy and Nickels and Dimes, it felt right. There were moments that were a little out of place – like the overly slow Baskerfield and the glaring absence of Mommy’s Little Monster; but the inclusion of Story of My Life before the encore was enough to wipe away the dissatisfaction of missing any other song.
Despite the attitude and the swagger, something still felt amiss within the walls of the Commodore. For the first time in the handful of times I’ve seen Social Distortion, this was the only instance where they truly failed to grab me. It felt, somehow, hollow; like they were going through the motions. It was real and authentic yet slightly forced which took awake from the overall feel of the evening. A somewhat muffled sound system that tended to burry Ness’ classic vocal melodies within the mix was also added an extra layer of annoyance to the show.
Even with the negative aspects of the evening, a bad Social Distortion show remains better than most other bands on their best days and I’d be hard pressed to find many people truly disappointed with the evening. Plus, their choice to end the evening with Ring of Fire was sure to make everyone leave with a fond memory – even if the early parts were sometimes less than stellar.