The Forum – August 8th
The crowd was a straight up, beautiful mess. Tamed, but one that lives up to the 35 years of loyalty fans all over the world have dedicated to Bad Religion. Walking up Highgate Road, you could see hundreds of crossbuster prints: spilling out of bars; decorating the paths in sacrilege bargain-cons; attracting the confused, disdained looks of passers-by; generally telling Kentish Town, on that evening, that religion is anything but welcome at The Forum.
The place was rammed. Jesus Christ Superstar’s ‘Overture’ began, and that’s when things started to take form. Perfectly hyping things up, the 70s funk epic took your heart rate to a spike end cliff, and then, with steady patience, the band set loose anthemic ‘Spirit Shine’.
Flying feet, half naked fat men, and motion sickness for the faint. It was a spectacle; a place that found the purest sense of peace amongst chaos. Bringing the crowd to boiling point after four songs, it was adrenaline overkills like ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Can’t Stop It’ which set the room alight with brimstone and sweat – lots of sweat. “We’re only playing classics tonight”. Nobody had a problem – excluding the couple of callouts, which even Jay Bentley admitted he wished they could play. The band has to pick a set list of around 30 songs amongst 16 studio albums (minus Into the Unknown, an album that stirs a strange feeling amongst many). The odds aren’t really in their favour, but take into account how short numbers like ‘52 Seconds’ and ‘Do What You Want’ are, and how they pack more melodic haymakers than most bands would struggle to muster in a whole gig.
Then there was the onslaught of No Control. ‘Change of Ideas’, ‘Big Bang’, ‘No Control’, ‘Conquer the World’, ‘Sanity’, ‘Henchman’, ‘Billy’, ‘You’. Staggering and dazed, there was a few exiting the pit after this frenzy. Brooks Whickerman’s relentless drumming, Bentley’s contagious smile, Greg Graffin’s demon summoning power stances – it’s all there reassuring you this band has no plans to throw in the towel. Newest addition, Mike Dimkich, had the swagger and precision of a veteran who clearly doesn’t see this as a temp stint. Brian Baker needed no applause, no introduction; he brought the presence, riffs, and stamina only a musician of his calibre can bring.
Baker and Dimkich show off true B.R guitar leads towards the end, closing the show with ‘Infected’, ‘Generator’, and ‘American Jesus’ in consecutive order, sending the crowd into a wild state of euphoria. With a new album in the pipes and a well-received 16th out, back in 2013, you’d expect new material from every direction. But instead, The Forum was flooded with relics from a past not forgotten. The whole show was homage to a legacy that continues to grow, and as the looping riff of ‘American Jesus’ plays out to the band’s exit, you begin to understand how some bands are just built to last for a very, very long time.
Oh yeah, and the encore shredded the place with ‘Sinister Rouge’ and ‘Fuck Armageddon, This Is Hell’. The show is never over.