Live Review: Sick Of it All – Manchester

Live Review: Sick Of it All - Manchester

Live Review: Sick Of It All - Rebellion, Manchester
10th May 2023
Support: Going Off, Chain of Survival
Words: Dan Barnes
Photos: Bill Mawdsley

It’s hot, hot, hot on the streets of Manchester tonight, which means the walls of the Rebellion Bar will be dripping by the end of the evening. Add to that a sold-out crowd and the return of New York Hardcore legends, Sick of It All to Manchester after a nine-year wait, and it has all the ingredients of one heck of a night.

Opening proceedings is Liverpool’s Chain of Survival, who are ferociously kicking through their set as the venue begins to fill. Their fusion of metal and hardcore finds the band switching between styles and ripping up a storm, as they blend older material with tracks from this year’s Failure Rate EP. As a metric to how fired up the crowd is, one needed only to look at the pit action this early in the night.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

To suggest Going Off are excited to be supporting Sick of It All in a hometown show is an understatement if the unbridled energy and enthusiasm of frontman, Jake Huxley is anything to go by. From the first notes of their set, it feels as though something is brewing; the early tunes have a steady build, evoking the kind of ‘Hold’ moment from Braveheart – you know it’s gonna explode, it’s just when. The band mix two-steppin’ rhythms with some cranking guitar intros, bouncing beats with pseudo-Napalm aggression and have the first stage diver of the evening leap during their set. Tunes from the new record, Die Fast, gets a couple of spins, yet their forty-minute allotment of time seems to have gone far too quickly.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

It's oft a thankless task playing as support to a band with such rampant anticipation, and when NYHC titans, Sick of It All take the Rebellion stage, expectation is close to boiling point. The doors are closed, the air conditioning is off and the room is sweaty and cramped even before the first notes of No Cure is played.

This being the thirtieth anniversary of the Scratch the Surface record, SoIA are playing a big chunk of that album tonight. Insurrection follows as those at the front of the stage are deluged by flying bodies. Clobberin’ Time, Take the Night Off and DNC mingle with Scratches’ deep-cuts, Goatless and Desperate Fool, and the most recent song on offer, Wake the Sleeping Dragon’s Inner Vision.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

Lou Koller apologises for the length of time they’ve been away from Manchester, but makes a jibe about never having been invited to play the Manchester Punk Festival. He suggests those under the age of thirty don’t like the fast ones and reminds everyone that SoIA not only two-step better than anyone, they also invented the splitting the audience in two for a sing off. He has his tongue firmly planted in his check when he mentions “Hatebreed’s one riff.”

The pit remains in perpetual motion to such an extent that here might be a solution to the energy crisis. Lou is handing out fist-bumps like they’re going out of fashion, reminding one punter that if the pair exchange any more they would be legally married in the state of Arizona.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

Craig Setari and Armand Majidi continue to lay the platform for Pete Koller’s guitar and the three are as tight as you would expect after thirty-years of playing together. As the show rampages to its conclusion, we’re back in familiar live territory: Us vs Them, Good Lookin’ Out and Injustice System! never fail to deliver the goods and established closing duo of Uprising Nation and Step Down finish things off.

Add dehydration and heat stroke to the myriad of other pit-based injuries expected after such a show and you can reckon on that St John’s will have their work cut out for them as the crowd spill out onto Whitworth Street.

One final point – kudos to Will Mawdsley, the Razor’s Edge photographer who bravely entered the fray, armed only with his camera, so that he could take the pictures and get the full, visceral affects of the show. As the writer, I just stand at the back with a notebook – Will’s down in the thick of it. It’s like Hacksaw Ridge, but with photographic equipment.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley
Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

Photo credits: Bill Mawdsley

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