Show Review: 94

I went into this, my 7th Social D show, not quite knowing what to expect….but extremely happy that I’d be getting a chance to see ’em in Vail. See, the week leading up to the show, I half-suspected that this one was going to be canceled, as they were forced to postpone two shows in San Diego earlier in the week due to Mike’s nasty bout of the flu. Once Friday rolled around and I realized that the show would go on, after a moment of elation, I was struck by another troubling thought: I considered the possibility that this show might not turn out to be a memorable one…simply because 8,400 feet is generally not the best altitude at which to recuperate from the flu. I was forced to consider this alarming notion during the entire treacherous drive up from Denver. Lucky me… I’m happy to say: How wrong I was. From the moment the boys took the stage this snowy Friday night, I knew we were in for a treat. The first notes of "Road Zombie" proved that the whole band was working tight and right, and they seemed genuinely happy to be in Vail. Unlike the previous three shows in Vegas, they didn’t start off with an acoustic set, which I personally missed…but that’s only because I was lucky enough to catch ’em last two nights last weekend in Sin City. Some of their songs take on a whole new depth of meaning when they are stripped down to their bare essences, courtesy of two acoustic guitars and a stand-up bass; and I was definitely hoping to hear the familiar strains of "Story of my Life" spring from Mike’s and Jonny’s Gibson Wide Bodies….. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. But, in the end, the band MORE than made up for my missing acoustic jam by blistering their way through 2 hours of whiskey-soaked punk-a-billy that is uniquely and distinctively Social Distortion. Oh…and for the second show in a row, I caught a whole hand-full of roses. I mean, like 5 of them. I kept one for my girl, handed one to a girl I’d been standing next to who claimed she had been to 12 Social D shows and had yet to snag a rose, and tossed the others in the air behind me. Quite a way to start a show! Anyhow, as far as the set list goes, it started with the blistering lament to Dennis Danell, "Reach for the Sky", which led directly into the strongest song from Sex Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll, "Highway 101". These were followed by the crowd pleasers "Under my Thumb" and the down-tuned, country version of "Prison Bound"….which is MUCH better when it’s stripped down and allowed to work as a country-inspired punk ballad, as opposed to a straight-forward punk song. Thrashers "Mommy’s Little Monster" and "Sick Boy" made their appearance in the middle of the set, followed by "Far Behind and "Six More Miles". This great rework of a classic Hank Williams tune is, most definitely, a welcome addition to the show. However, I do miss some of the older stuff, such as "When the Angels Sing" and "99 to Life"…and I’ve STILL yet to year "When She Begins" in concert. The show ended with "Ball and Chain" and "Ring of Fire" as an encore….which, though expected, was incredible….particularly as Mike once again channeled Johnny Cash during the introduction and reminded us: "If it weren’t for all the great Black music of the past, then we wouldn’t have any good White music." Too true…. An interesting note about this show: The crowd was much rowdier than at most other Social D shows I’ve attended. The pits were large and unorganized and the adrenaline was flowing through testosterone-fuelled teenagers like Red Bull. There were several fights and more than a few people trampled by the appalling lack of pit etiquette. I, myself, had to assert my authority a bit as some drunken mouth-breather decided to aggressively push his way in-front of my girl without so much as an "excuse me". After finding himself on the floor behind me, he found somewhere more "hospitable" to be….which was considerate of him. Anyway, I digress. It was great to see the boys one last time in 2007…particularly in one of my favorite towns in Colorado. The fact that they put on such a great show made it even better! Oh….and, as usual, The Tossers did not disappoint. If you EVER have a chance to catch these guys, don’t miss it. They are bloody brilliant!