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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Social Distortion, Chuck Ragan, The Sharks - The Pageant St. Louis,MO 05/04/11 Review

I had the same expectations I usually have when seeing Social Distortion. To see a kick ass rock n' roll show and i wasn't disappointed this time either. This was my third go around seeing Social D. They are still in fine form.

With a new cd out it was all the more exciting. I frequent many music sites online and have found people either love or hate this cd. Shame is most of the old school fans won't give it much of chance. They bitch and moan that Ness and company aren't being true to what they were and are. That this is not the Social D they know and love. I say 30+ years into their career are they still supposed to sound exactly the same as the day they started? That to me is like liking the same guy from the 80's with a mullet and spandex on. Sorry, but those days are long gone and you people who refuse to move on with life need to get a life. At the very least give something new a chance.

Traffic into St. Louis was crappy due to construction. Wish i had known i would have left a couple of hours earlier. I like to sleep so that is what catching extra z's gets you. The area around the Pageant is great. Filled with quaint side walk cafe's and some of the best places to eat in St. Louis. It is also fairly safe to venture about in. No need for the police to even be there...

The show started off with a young band out of Birmingham, England named the Sharks. They were are fairly similar in style to early new wave punk bands of the 80's. Some compare them to the Clash. I wouldn't go that far myself. Although i gave them a listen. To my ears they need some seasoning and road wear and they will get there. Although someone might need to give them a sandwich as they are all rail thin. Where is Nikki Sixx when you need him? Their singer James Mattock started out the first song screaming for a minute or so. I think that was to sound their battle cry and give you an idea of who they are or what they are about. Maybe it is the punk banshee cry for all i know? Their bass player i believe was a transplant from Ireland but i could be mistaken. Old Criss O'Reilly just seemed to look a little different from the other lads. The second guitarist for the Sharks is Andrew Bayliss. Along with the other part of the rhythm section drummer Sam Lister. The boys say this is their first trip to the good old USA. The question is will it be the first of many or a one time thing? I think they are paying their dues this round, i wonder if they will be round to reap the rewards of said dues?

Next up was Chuck Ragan accompanied by Jon Gaunt on fiddle and Joe Ginsberg on bass. This was a step into folky, bluesy, country from a man who punked his way through his early career and up until a few years ago still was. I liked the sound though. Truthfully i can't name a song they played, but i did like it. It is like anything new you hear. You like it or you don't. I like to delve in and try new things and hear them as well. Why bother with music if all you hear is the same old song over and over. You may as well just buy that cd and be done with it. No sense in even leaving your house. Chuck has gravel voice with a bark to it. Perhaps he has allergies or a cold, but i tend to think otherwise. I must say the fiddler is quite the player though, Gaunt can wield his bow with the best of them. Ness seems to think so too because he had him on stage with Social D for a song. This rag tag band of musicians more closely resembled a railroad worker or the homeless. Which they favor more so i am not quite sure. No matter they put on a solid set.

Now on to the reason I and everyone else bought a ticket and went to this show, Social Distortion. The band has changed slightly since i saw them in 2009, but not much. They have a new drummer David Hidalgo Jr. Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham on guitar and Brad Harding on bass are still aboard the S.S. Distortion with founding member Mike Ness at the helm. I must say as i get older this show is viewed much better from the balcony then fighting it out on the front barrier as i did the last 2 shows i saw live. Or should say at the helm?

If you go to see a show for pyro and fashion this is not the show for you. But if you go to rock and see a good show then you are in the right place. Leave your ego, anger, aggravation, racism, and attitude at the door it is not needed here. Ness wears nothing more then dress pants, dress shoes, suspenders, and plain white dress shirt and hat, and a coat to start. It is all of the 30's era dress style. Wickersham still has the old school punk street thing going on. I think Harding has taken on Ness style and drummer David Hidalgo dresses for comfort more then style. Who can blame a drummer though. Being behind a kit and sweating your ass off i wouldn't want to be in anything that was confining. Enough about fashion it is time to get down to the bones of Skelly and Social D.

The show started off with Road Zombie the first cut from the new cd "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes". I think it was rather appropriate all things considered. Unlike most bands, Social D puts out new music every few years and tours to support it. One of the few bands who have done that throughout their career, except maybe Motorhead. After that there was a taste from just about every part of Social D's career. I guess i was most pleased to hear "Down on the World Again" and "Down Here With the Rest of Us". Call me a late bloomer but this when i first got into Social Distortion with the White Light, White Heat, White Trash album. The set was peppered with a tune from Prison Bound and Sex, Love and Rock n' Roll. It was a good mix of the bands career.

The encore was worth sticking around for. To those who left, too bad you lost out. I love to hear Social D cover Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire. To me it is a means of passing the torch from one wayward musician to the next who found the light. When the night was over i wish it hadn't been. No i didn't want to go home and go to bed. But i had little choice...Well that is after meeting Ness for yet another time. Why do i feel like Forrest Gump when i say that?  I got the added pleasure of meeting the rest of the band minus Jonny "2 Bags" Wickersham. I guess Jonny didn't want to come out and play? Hmm shame would have liked all 4 signatures on my ticket stub. Ah well, something to look forward to on Social Distortion's next tour or perhaps work permitting another tour date on this one. One never knows where i will pop up for a good show...

To see this tour or any other go here for tour dates: . And if you would like to check out Social Distortion go here:

Social Distortion Setlist:

Road Zombie
So Far Away
King of Fools
Bad Luck
Mommy's Little Monster
Sick Boy
Machine Gun Blues
Ball and Chain
Down on the World Again
Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown
Down Here with the Rest of Us
Reach for the Sky
Making Believe

Prison Bound
Story of My Life
Ring of Fire
The Sharks: L-R: Guitarist Andrew Bayliss with his back to you, Drummer Sam Lister, and James Mattock singer/guitarist.

Mike Ness singer/guitarist of Social Distortion

Brent Harding bassist for Social Distoriton.

Jonny "2 Bags"Wickersham Social Distortion guitarist.

Joe Ginsberg Bass, Chuck Ragan guitars/vocals and Jon Gaunt fiddler.

Jon Gaunt fiddler

James Mattock singer/guitarist The Sharks.

Sam Lister the Sharks drummer.

Criss O'Reilly bassist The Sharks.

Andrew Bayliss guitarist and James Mattock guitarist/singer The Sharks.

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