Rise Against @ Birmingham Academy, 7th November 2011


I got into Rise Against pretty late in the game, Ready to Fall was the first song I heard and I dragged my best friend to go watch them in the Lock-Up stage at Reading, from that moment on they became one of my favourite bands. That was the summer of 2006 in another couple of years I would catch them at Download festival, the old Academy in 2009 and earlier this year at their one off show at The Electric Ballroom in London which was streamed live on the internet. Fast forward to tonight and Rise Against are back in Birmingham, the weather may be miserable but it’s not going to dampen any spirits as the line up for tonight’s show is incredible and the chance to see one of the best live bands in the scene today is just too good to miss.

Up first are Polar Bear Club and their melodic punk rock is a great way to kick off the evenings proceedings. Opening with Killin It off their excellent new album Clash Battle Guilt Pride Polar Bear Club are on top form tonight with bespectacled frontman Jimmy Stadt bouncing around the stage as they make their way through their short but sweet 30 minute set. The awesome Burned Out Jar has everyone who knows the words singing along to Jimmy’s trademark gruff punk vocals and Living Saints without a doubt won over a fair few people tonight. There’s some audience participation for punk rock anthem Most Miserable Like as Jimmy gets the crowd singing along for one last time.


I’m pretty sure that everyone in the room tonight knows who the next man to grace the stage, he’s the guitarist in one of the biggest bands in world but tonight Tom Morello is The Nightwatchman taking to the stage in a Guy Fawkes mask, a mask made famous by V from V for Vendetta and something that had become a symbol for anti-capitalism across the world.


‘I am Tom Morello and this is a one man revolution’, one hell of a statement but coming from him its not too hard to grasp, The Nightwatchman may not sound anything like RATM but the political backbone to the songs is still there its just delivered in a different manner. The intro to Sleep Now in the Fire gets the crowd on their toes but the intro is all that we got, Tom Morello you big tease! His folk tinged songs go down well with his trademark quirky solos and a guitar named Black Spartcus! The highlight of the set is the last song Worldwide Rebel Songs, joined by Tim McIralth on stage and with audience chanting along to the chorus it sounds amazing.


There’s no fancy lightshow or stage set up for Rise Against but they don’t need it, when you have the ability to write songs like these guys all they need is their instruments and a room full of people and that’s what they’ve got tonight. Opening with the hard hitting Re-Education (Through Labor) its testament to the band when every song they play is huge and the whole room knows every word. Tonight’s set concentrates on all the big sing along numbers, fists are pumped into the air for the anthemic and my personal favourite Survive and Endgame’s Make it Stop no doubt puts a few tears into people eyes.


Tim coming onto to the stage alone armed with an acoustic guitar can only mean one thing and the crowd isn’t disappointed as fan favourite Swing Life Away gets played the crowds singing almost drowning out Tim. An acoustic rendition of Hero of War follows, an especially poignant song as Remembrance Day is just on the horizon and the crowd reflects on the lyrics which eloquently describe some of the truths of war without ramming it down your throats. That’s what I like about Rise Against rather then standing there preaching they let the songs do the talking.


The huge hit Ready to Fall sounds incredible and the encore of the venomous, proper punk rock anthem Give it All gets the crowd going crazy as Tim spits out the lyrics singing straight from the heart. Saviour closes the set and with hoarse voices the crowd pile out of the Academy happy and satisfied with the performance put in by punk stalwarts Rise Against.

Review – Hannah Sebestjanowicz
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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