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Bad Religion, Brixton Academy, London, 9th May, 2001

It's typical really. I've been waiting over 10 years to see Bad Religion, the first punk band I got into, to play Ireland. Then I leave the country, move to London and I get to see BR within a few weeks of arriving. The real killer, though, is that they're also playing Dublin on this tour! One of the reasons for moving to London was to see bands that don't play Dublin! Anyway...

Pitchshifter got the crowd warmed up fairly well; their set was underway by the time we got there. The smattering of tracks from their new album, backed up by 'Genius', probably their best track, and the anti-racist 'Triad' to remind people that they used to be a full on metal band, was nicely upbeat. The crowd was seriously divided in their reaction, while the front of the massive crowd was moshing like crazy, there were quite a few people heckling. Jon also took the opportunity to express his opinion towards the recent NME review of their new album. Suffice it to say, the journalist in question did not appear to engage in the act he suggested.

But that became a distant memory as BR hit the stage and rattled through what seemed like a hundred short, sharp classic punk tracks. Despite the initial shock that most of the band look like they could be Sum41's dads and realistically could have been, the middle-aged baldy dudes quickly made you forget they were middle-aged baldy dudes and proved that the kids have a lot to live up to.

Trying to remember everything that they played is a feat that few could manage, but I do remember a lot of tracks from the new album; the album's opening onslaught of 'Supersonic', 'Prove it' and 'Can't stop it' was proof that they have very seriously returned to form. Current single 'Broken', 'Sorrow', 'Epiphany' and the most obviously political song on "The Process of Belief", 'Kyoto Now', were among the tracks that took the tempo down a little, but not for long. They rattled through a lot of their back catalogue, tracks like 'Recipe for hate', 'Stranger than fiction' and "Against the grain" classics 'Modern man' and 'Anaesthesia'.

There were probably a number of tracks from their last couple of albums as well, but I paid little or no attention to those when they were released, so I'm not sure. Between tracks was more than the usual level of banter; in fact, the band members seemed to be suffering from verbal diarrhoea. They explained that they had just been touring Europe and were enjoying the fact that the audience could understand what they were saying.

After around an hour, they fired into the classic 'American Jesus', then a storming take on the "Stranger than fiction" version of '21st Century Digital Boy' and they were gone. No encores, they'd explained earlier that they never do them, because they're pretentious and the crowd was left exhausted, happy and undoubtedly dying for more. This was punk rock as it's supposed to be and there's few around who can outdo Bad Religion these days.

Donnacha DeLong

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