On a bitterly cold night, in grimy Manchester, I stood in a queue outside Manchester Apollo. I had eagerly anticipated this day for months, having booked the tickets to this particular concert in early June. Those tickets were to see Rise Against, one of my favourite bands of all time. Touring for the first time with their good friends (or so I’m told) Thursday and Poison the Well, it was to be a hardcore punk show that wasn’t going to be forgotten in a hurry.

Having shown our general standing admission tickets, we hurried to the stage to grab a good spot, as close to the front as possible. No sooner had we taken our places, than the lights dimmed and Poison the Well took to the stage. It seemed a lot of the crowd had arrived to see these American hardcore punk musicians perform with sweaty, drunken headbanging ensuing throughout the audience and a brutal pit was swirling in the centre of the art deco theatre. The screams were harsh and the strobes added an intense atmosphere as the onlookers who had no idea who they were joined in the rock appreciation. Their set was short, although they seemed to lose energy as the performance went on, so it probably wasn’t a bad thing that they were the first support act.

The lights went up again and people pushed and shoved to grab more beer to get even more drunk. The roadies dashed about like rabbits in headlights and within 15 minutes, Thursday had entered the spotlight. A band much more similar to Rise Against, they gained instant favour with every audience member, belting out new and old punk hits, to the appreciative sign of a circle pit. Pausing mid-way through their set to request a picture of the crowd (this idea was greeted with many ‘devil horn’ signs), before ploughing onwards. Thursday, unlike Poison the Well, seemed to gather momentum as their set went on, so much so in fact it wouldn’t have shocked me if an encore had been called me them (something probably unheard of for a support act).

By this time, nearly every man and woman over the legal drinking limit had had their fair share of alcohol so the mood was raucous. This was wholly demonstrated when over the speakers, Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of, blasted out. An alcohol-fuelled sing-a-long begun, complete with moshing and the most brutal mosh pit of the night.

Then, at 9pm, the lights dimmed and the crowd fell silent. The guitar of Collapse (Post-Amerika) burst through the speakers and the crowd broke into a frenzy of moshing, bouncing and general excitement. Rise Against ripped through the song with a ravenous enthusiasm, dashing around the stage, jumping through every song. Thrashing out favourites like Re-Education (Through Labour), Paper Wings, Drones and Audience of One, all within the first half of the set. Lead singer, Tim Mcllrath’s voice was raspy as ever as the band struck up Savior, before launching straight into Survive and then slowing right down again into Prayer of the Refugee. Shortly after, the band exited the stage, prompting almost instant calls of ‘RISE AG-AINST’. A couple of minutes later, just Tim returned, armed with an acoustic guitar and a bar stool. Before a quick bit of audience interaction, he quietly strummed out Swing Life Away, as lighters went up into the air, and the voices of two and a half thousand drunken Mancunians sung along. Following this, Tim began to speak about what he is most passionate about, war and politics. Even though not all the fans necessarily agreed, they all cheered when the frontman prompted, demonstrating the control this mighty punk band have over their faithful. Of course, the only song to follow this speech was Hero of War, accompanied by lead guitarist, Zach Blair. After Hero of War, both frontman and guitarist left the stage. This triggered more calls for an encore and this time, the band returned with a passion, an aggression that wasn’t seen in the first hour and a half. Manically, Rise Against blasted through Dancing for Rain, the quiet riff deceiving me once again, even after many listens. Followed by what might’ve been the crowd’s favourite, Give It All was one big, brutal party, the whole crowd bouncing and moshing in time with their deity for the moment, Tim Mcllrath. Then, the show closer, Ready to Fall, blast through the speakers, through the floor and the walls. The roof almost came off the place as everyone in the whole venue went crazy. The chorus was shouted by every voice in the theatre, the passion oozed from the singer as he closed out the song.

The performance was so energetic and passionate, something I really didn’t expect. Rise Against really put on a true punk show and I couldn’t have been more happy after my four month wait.

Collapse (Post-Amerika)
State of the Union
Re-Education (Through Labor)
Paper Wings
Long Forgotten Sons
The Good Left Undone
Chamber the Cartridge
The Dirt Whispered
Audience of One
Blood to Bleed
Blood-Red White & Blue
Prayer of the Refugee

Swing Life Away
Hero of War

Dancing for Rain
Give It All
Ready to Fall