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Against Me! @ The Manning Bar 17/1/2013

February 12th 2013 06:06
A few years ago when Against Me cancelled their Australian tour just a few weeks out and then never announced replacement dates and offered full refunds, I thought they were breaking up or they'd do a Rancid and never come back down here. I had to be content with a Tom Gabel solo show the year before as the closest I'd get to seeing the band. But to be the fair in those last few years a lot has happened to the band that is well documented and doesn't need to be brought up again here.

Supporting them were the extremely talented Smith Street Band. The Melbourne four piece are the perfect support act as there is a lot of similarities between them and the headliners. The passion in their music reminds me of the early days of Against Me! and tonight they didn't disappoint in front of a packed room who also understand how good The Smith Street Band are. Playing a even mix of the their two albums, it is the tracks of last years "Sunshine & Technology" that garbed the biggest singalongs. Tracks like 'Whats Changed', 'I Want Friends' and 'Young Drunks' delivered with the same gusto as the record. Wil, in an effort to become a glorified Taswegian even drank a beer out of someone's shoe, as is the tradition down there....apparently.

Before Against Me! even came out, the crowd started to sing Against Me tracks 'Pints Of Guinness Makes You Stronger' and 'Walking Is Still Honest'. It was one of those special, had to be there moments as hardcore fans, so excited to see them play after four years getting caught up in the excitement of the show. When the band came out and opened with 'Pints..' The roof was almost blown off the place with the roar of approval from the five hundred strong.

Classic Against Me! tracks like 'Miami', 'Don't Lose Touch', 'New Wave', 'White People For Peace' and the interconnecting tracks 'Thrash Unreal' (from "New Wave") and 'Because Of The Shame' (from "White Crosses" which is about the same person in life and after their death) were delivered with force and enthusiasm. The smile on Laura Jane Grace's face just went to show how excited she was to be down here performing for Aussie crowds again. And credit to Atom Willard who did a great job filling in as their drummer in such short notice.

For me the highlight was 'The Ocean', the song that first alluded to Laura's transgender but when she sung the line
"If I was born a woman/My mother would have named me Laura"
was greeted with a roar of approval for the courage she has shown since coming out. 

During the 18 song set we were also treated to a few new tracks of the forth coming "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" and the songs came across as angry and as gritty as any other song in their career. I admit, I thought the album,  with its deeply personal theme, would be more introspective and more melancholic. I was wrong and judging by the new tracks, the album is going to be potentially one of the best releases this year.

The ninety minute set certainly made up for the absence to our shores and the band really ripped into it despite having a early time slot for tomorrow's Big Day Out. It was a great night, a hot crowd and a fantastic show!

Don't Lose Touch
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New Wave & Walking Is Still Honest

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