No Holds Barred barrage of Brilliant music

Rise Against are a band that play a brand of music that these days doesn't always hold up well live. Punk rock can lose its distinct intimacy and power over its audience in big, hollow venues, so at a gig like this, in a perfectly proportioned venue such as Islington Academy, it was very easy for Rise Against to put on a brilliant live show.

The power that this band conveys live is magnificent teamed with the right venue and the right audience; it was very hard to not be impressed. They played crowd pleasers from old albums and new, an all around good set filled with both high powered tunes, crowd anthems and slower more melodic songs, each played with almost exacting precision. Throwing the crowd into a true frenzy were songs like 'Blood To Bleed', 'Alive And Well', 'State Of The Union' and 'The First Drop'. 'Dancing For Rain' is a particular stand out moment as the first few chords of this song echoed beautifully through this venue and drummer Brandon's powerhouse drumming could be held to even the highest standards. This show was no half arsed affair like a lot of American "punk rock" bands provide for us when they play over here, Rise Against are the real deal; I haven't seen a show go at such a non stop pace since I last saw Bad Religion play. Yes, you read that right- they are that good live.

The passion that fuels this band on stage is a combination of their genuine excitement to play their first headlining show in England, having previously only opened for the Mad Caddies and Sick Of It All, which in all cases is no mean feat itself and the energy the crowd was feeding back to them. Singer Tim McIlrath, having just about recovered from losing his voice a few days previously, interacted with the crowd with ease and indulged in enlightening us on his views on the British Election. He hit every note as well as he could have, with fiery energy and passion- he's not one of those front men who take it upon themselves to speak to win the crowd over, rather, he does it by throwing himself and leading his band into seriously full throttle renditions of their recorded material, all of which I can vouch is better and more powerful live. This is after all, punk rock; there is no better way to hear this band than live.

There were three songs in particular that were incredibly memorable, first being 'Like The Angel', this song live will blow you away every time, causing the hair on the back of my neck to stand up, the melodic punk this song creates defines everything this band are good at and what so many of their fans loved about them that night. They play meaningful music, that they put their all into and the crowds immense reaction spoke for itself. Yes, it's true they do shout in their music, but you can still hear every band member excelling at what they do, and you can still hear the highly intelligent lyrics that go beyond the usual "punk" rock clichés that so many bands just breaking the surface stick to.

Secondly, 'Give It All', which was used to conclude the main part of the set, gathered the most momentum and was the song that got the pit going large. Audience participation peaked at this point because this song only ever reaches its true potential live. I don't think this song can be conveyed to its full extent on CD, you need to hear this live to really hear it. Lastly, though hounded with slight technical difficulties we were graced with the first overseas performance of acoustic favourite 'Swing Life Away'. Once this song was performed I couldn't help but say it was everything I expected it to be- intimate and personal, with lyrics relevant to so many, this song live is heart rendering. Though this isn't the type of music Rise Against play best, and the feeling was that the many members of the audience would have preferred one of the bands faster songs to lead the encore, Tim pulled off the song well live.

This show was a brilliant punk rock spectacle. They took every song they played and owned it. The venue could barely contain the energy that this band exude live, and not slacking in any aspect, the performance was near perfect. It was best put by Tim, who once said something along the lines that you don't come to a Rise Against show to sit still at the bar, you come to participate and leave having had your shirt ripped off your back in the pit. I left breathless and enthralled. See this band live and see for yourself just how powerful this band are live.