A huge gathering of punks, skins, and hardcore kids take over the Manchester Academy tonight like a huge punk beehive; the most fatal sting however comes from a band who, for 20 years, have sparked interest in mohawks, three chords, and fun times.

Wearing the word “oi!” on their sleeves metaphorically and playing in the vein of Sham 69 and Cock Sparrer, London skinheads Booze & Glory open tonight’s set with a very charming and joyous affair. Songs themed with football and life in London Town are a-plenty and are carried by easy sing-along choruses that are quite enjoyable one moment, but become quite repetitively irksome the next, especially with the oversaturation of the word ‘skinhead’. All in all, this four-piece provide an enjoyable and welcoming set for the night ahead. (3/5)

The legendary Anti-Nowhere League have been a band just over ten years longer than tonight’s headliners; whilst one would think this means they’re tired old dogs that need to be put down, the reality is the metal-tinged punk mob still have some bite and life left in them to put on a stellar performance. Cult classics like ‘I Hate… People’, ‘For You’, and the dirty romancing ‘Woman’ incite sweat and beer soaked mosh pits amongst the masses, a particular highlight being fan favourite ‘So What?’ causing a Viking massacre to ensue. Whilst the rest of the band seem to casually play pummelling percussion and the dirtiest riffs that would make Motörhead proud, frontman Nick Culmer a.k.a. ‘Animal’ provides a humorous and cool, calculating stage persona that is brilliantly entertaining, helping to pave a much-needed welcome for the main headliners. (3.5/5)

Knocking down the doors to the stage and loading their shotgun of hits, Rancid launch into the fray with two shots from the barrel in the form of ‘Roots Radicals’ and ‘Radio’. With their audience in a joyous agony, the band stands firm and charges towards the soles of their fans bombarding their shoes with hit after hit, until the audience’s feet come alive and are struck with the fever of simply dancing the night away. Under the sneering commands shouted out by a bearded Tim Armstrong, the night sees the crowds skank to their hearts content during ‘Old Friend’ and ‘Hooligans’, running around aimlessly in the pits to ‘Dead Bodies’ and ‘Maxwell Murder’, and the usual punk rock shenanigans of huddled, swarming masses and spilled beer throughout huge unified sing-alongs to the likes of ‘Journey to the End of the East Bay’ and ‘Bloodclot’. Even after a lovely solemn semi-solo performance of ‘The Wars End’ as led by Lars Frederiksen, the fun simply will not die right through to the expected interval that is introduced via the ‘you’ve got a friend in me’ rhetoric of ‘Fall Back Down’.

The rowdy chants for the band’s return are answered with thankful words and the world’s biggest skank-off to classic song ‘Time Bomb’. Such catchy vibes are morphed into the frantic fanatics of ‘Tenderloin’ before everyone in the entire room gets caught by the “cattle catcher on the ‘Oi Locomotive’” antics beset by ‘Avenues & Alleyways’. The climax of this 20 year celebration is reached once the California punks walk back out the door with fan favourite ‘Ruby Soho’, a song which, for many in the room tonight, was the first form of exposure to the band. The first two words of that song’s chorus, “Destination unknown” are appropriately applied to a band who have come this far and show no signs of slowing down; here’s to another 20 years of Rancid! (4/5)


Words by Aaron Lohan (@ooran_loohan)

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