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Bad Religion, The Ambassador, Dublin, 15th May 2002.

So Bad Religion finally found their way to Ireland. It really is a bit ridiculous when you think about it. They've been playing together for over twenty years and only now saw fit to come here, but it was worth the wait. Attracting a crowd that included both old school and new punk fans, you'd have thought it would have been hard to please everyone, but when you're out supporting an album as strong as "The process of belief" it was never going to be that difficult to send everyone home with their happy faces on. Too bad the opening band can't make the same claim.

Superskin are the Raging Speedhorn of the Irish gig scene. No matter who you go and see, they are the support band, grinding through their turgid industrial/rap/rock hybrid set. They weren't too bad the first time I saw them a few months ago, but there's been no change since. Their sound hasn't grown at all. They still seem to have the one song, which they play repeatedly for the entire set. 'Test' sounds like 'Ritual', which in turn sounds like 'Black Sex'. There's no change of mood, texture or even chords. If only Pitchshifter had played support instead like they were supposed to.

Enough of that though, Bad Religion was the band everyone flocked to this former cinema to witness. Anyone who came expecting to hear fart jokes or to see some Canadian assholes sing about how their mother should have had an abortion would have been surprised. This is not numbered punk, this is unadulterated, pure Punk. The scene as it is today wouldn't exist if it weren't for Bad Religion. Their mix of aggressive songs, paired with catchy riffs and choruses, and blended with a sharp politically conscious mind has aged well and still sounds as fresh today as it ever did. The sound blaring from the speakers tonight was perfect, while the energy coming from the five middle-aged men on the stage fed the substantial crowd, who in turn urged the band further onwards. There was something about tonight that made it seem like you were witnessing a rebirth.

Like a car screeching through a mountain road with no brakes Bad Religion were reckless, dangerous and on fire. Everything was here and accounted for, 'Suffer', 'Broken', 'No control', 'Stranger than fiction', Kyoto Now', 'The Defense', 'Recipe For hate', 'Supersonic', 'Fuck Armageddon, this is Hell'. Outstanding. Not a stone was left unturned as they ploughed through their substantial back catalogue, while the whole time making sure new album was represented fairly too. This is a band that is well back on form and wants everyone to know. If you're a fan of The Offspring, Sum 41, Blink-182 or New Found Glory and you missed this then you missed the masters at work. It fucking better not be another hundred and fifty years before they come back.

Ken McGrath

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