It’s a cold Sunday evening in early November and a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Academy in Brixton eagerly opens the doors to the venue being opened. Eagerly awaiting getting inside as there is quite a chill to the night air as the sun went down hours ago, but just as eager because Rise Against are about to blow the roof off!
Before Rise Against take to the stage, the crowd experiences two support acts. First up is New Orleans’s based hardcore punk band PEARS. The four-piece gives off vibes similar to The Sex Pistols in terms of sound, with a little bit of Metallica and Guns’N’Roses thrown in. Vocalist Zach Quinn struts around the stage like the love-child of Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil, and the Stones’ Mick Jagger. Guitarist Brian Pretus and bassist Erich Goodyear accompanying on backing vocals and drummer Jarret Nathan ties them all together with his fast-paced an hard hitting performance. The whole band throws off some seriously high energy and worked as a great way to warm up the crowd for what was already promising to be a night of epic proportions.
Next up we have Orlando rockers, Sleeping With Sirens. Whilst also supporting Rise Against, Sleeping With Sirens are on tour in support of their newest record, Gossip, which was released on September 22nd 2017. They opened with ‘Tally It Up, Settle The Score’ from their 2011 release, Let’s Cheer To This and the crowd were up and moving as soon as the first chord was struck. There were quite a few Sleeping With Siren’s fans in the crowd if the intense amount of screaming (from teen girls in particular) was anything to go by. During their song ‘We Like It Loud’ vocalist, Kellin Quinn, found himself on the floor with crowd and I was one of the lucky few who got to hold his hand, and he jammed with us for the remainder of the song before returning to the stage.
Before they started playing ‘Congratulations,’ another 2011 hit which features guest vocals on the album, Feel, performed with Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire, Quinn dedicated the song to his ‘good friends and brothers’ in Rise Against. The song ended with Quinn showing off his incredible vocal range and guitarist Jack Fowler with an awesome guitar solo. Sleeping With Sirens only played two songs off of their new record, ‘Empire To Ashes’ early on, and ‘Legends’ towards the end, but the two tracks were well received. They stuck with playing older songs which was great for those in the crowd who’d not heard of them before as they are all vastly different as the groups sound as changed from album to album.
They closed with crowd-favourite ‘Kick Me’ from 2015’s Madness to a well-received, high energy and excited crowd. Bassist Justin Hills interacted quite a bit during this song and guitarist Nick Martin provided backing vocals to complement Kellin Quinn; while drummer, Gabe Barham kept the time and the harmony.
Now the two supports had played, the mosh-pit increased in both size and closeness. Due to a particularly loud patron – who began calling out the name ‘Jason’ as he’d been sent to get beer for his mates 20 minutes ago and had not yet returned – ‘Jason’ finally appeared to applause and just in time as the lights once again dimmed and the curtain, previously displaying a Sleeping With Siren’s banner, was raised. Three screens, Brandon Barnes’ drums, and a Rise Against banner appeared. The screens depicted a cartoon family preparing for a nuclear blast whilst sirens blared and the crowd chanted Rise Against over and over and over until finally the band everyone had been waiting for took to the stage.
There wasn’t a moment where the crowd was still or silent or didn’t participate in some way from opener ‘Chamber The Cartridge’ to closer, ‘Saviour.’ Known for high-octane performances, Tim McIllrath, Zach Blair, Joe Principe and Brandon Barnes did not disappoint and the sold-out venue was electrified the entire set.
Wolves, Rise Against’s 8th studio album was released on June 9th 2017 and whilst this tour is to promote the album, the band only played three tracks from it – ‘Wolves,’ ‘The Violence,’ and ‘House On Fire,’ but there was not one person in the entire room that wasn’t happy about it. They also played crowd favourites like ‘Collapse,’ ‘Survive,’ and ‘Prayer Of The Refugee,’ which was one of the songs on the setlist that everyone knew the words to and were shouting and screaming them along with varying levels of volume and accuracy.
The best part of the evening was when we were treated to three acoustic songs; ‘Swing Life Away,’ ‘People Live Here’ and ‘Hero Of War.’ There’s just something so incredibly beautiful about a sold-out crowd of nearly five thousand people singing along and holding up their phone torches and lighters, while an acoustic guitar is being beautifully played. Tim also dedicated the song ‘Survive,’ to the memory of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington.
For the encore, we were treated to ‘Make It Stop (September’s Children)’, and ‘Saviour.’ Before starting to play ‘Make It Stop,’ frontman Tim McIllrath gave a very touching and moving speech about how concerts are a place where people have a right to feel safe, and to be free from racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. The importance of these things could not be more prominent in today’s society, and were especially touching coming from a band who is well-known for being outspoken in their lyrics. The entire night was a hot, sweaty, dirty, high-energy one with all three bands putting on incredible performances to a red-hot crowd that gave as good as they got.
Rise Against Setlist:
Chamber the Cartridge
Give It All
Re-Education (Through Labor)
Dancing For Rain
The Good Left Undone
House On Fire
Prayer Of The Refugee
Swing Life Away (Acoustic)
People Live Here (Acoustic)
Hero Of War (Acoustic Intro/Full Band Outro)
Help Is On The Way
Make It Stop (September’s Children)
You can catch Rise Against on tour in Europe. Tickets HERE!