It had been a while since I had seen Sick Of It All, the soundtrack to many of the most intense crowds I have been a part of over the years, so the chance to see them in support of their latest album “The Last Act of Defiance” was one I couldn’t turn down.
The four-band bill began with Cheshire-based Bearing Loss. The young band offered some metal flavoured hardcore that was a little bit slower than the rest of the bands on the bill but they didn’t lose any of the atmosphere. A decent reaction from the early crowd and a good start to the night. Pay No Respect were on next and upped the tempo a little. The first pits started up and with the more old-school sound they helped build the atmosphere a little more and proved that they are one of the many reasons why the UKHC scene has continued to thrive over the years.
Main support on this tour is Manchester’s very own Broken Teeth. They have gained a huge reputation on the underground scene over the last couple of years and tonight showed why this is so. The pit opened up and was for a while dominated by the spin-kickers and windmillers who looked as though they were trying to save us from an invasion of invisible ninjas. Musically the band were really tight and sounded great. By the end of their brief set, and the announcement that the band wouldn’t be playing Manchester for a while, they left the stage having won over a few more fans and secured their reputation as one of the leading lights of the UK scene.
Finally it was time for the headliners, and one year short of their 30th anniversary they showed no sign of slowing down with 22 furious tracks in just over an hour of absolute chaos. With tracks spanning the whole of their career the band showed exactly why they are held in such high esteem. Three decades of playing everything from major festivals to small packed sweaty clubs and the band look and sound as fresh as ever. They spent the entire night smiling and connecting with their fans whether it’s by a passing high five, chatting between songs, offering the mic along the first row or giving stagedivers the opportunity to shout a line or two before they leapt back into the crowd. You definitely got the feeling that they loved it as much as their rabid fans, if not more.
Given that Sick Of It All are a band not exactly known for experimentation (not that that’s a problem when you have nailed a genre as well as they do) the five new tracks blended seamlessly into a set packed with classics. Singer Lou Koller grinned his way through the show while his brother guitarist Pete spent half the night bouncing up and down like Zebedee on crack. This line-up has been together for 23 of the band’s 29 years, and it really shows as they are one of the tightest live bands that I have seen and the pure energy on show is why they are almost untouchable as a live force.
When the night comes to an end, the foursome produce a killer trio of tracks, with ‘Scratch The Surface’ providing the obligatory wall of death and ‘Built To Last’ and ‘Us vs. Them’ giving the crowd the last chance to shout along, which they do en masse. This was maybe the seventh time I have seen them and they get better every time. However big the venue or no matter how many people are in front of them, they go all out to put on the best show they can every time. I hope it isn’t too long before I get to my eighth show. Amazing!
Photos by Stephen Fallows.