Review: Social Distortion at the Ogden, 12/2/11

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.


Early on in Social Distortion's Friday night show at the


, the first of

a three-night stand

, frontman Mike Ness thanked the crowd for coming to the show and said, "I know you had choices tonight. There's the Christmas light parade downtown. You could have stayed at home and watched

Sons of Anarchy

, but you came to see Social D. I think you made the right choice, homeboy."

Most of the folks in the near-capacity Ogden would have probably agreed that they did in fact the right choice. After walking on to a darkened stage while Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy" played over the house system, Social Distortion launched into "Road Zombie," the burning instrumental that opens the band's latest effort, Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes. A back-to-back pair of tunes from 1992's Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell -- "Bad Luck" and "King of Fools" -- fired up the crowd early on while a fiery take on "Another State of Mind" took things up a notch.

"We're just getting warmed up," Ness said after playing "Another State of Mind," and then jumped into the gangster-themed "Machine Gun Blues," also on Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes. While the band had been turning out an energetic set for the first half hour, including a righteous take on "Mommy's Little Monster," "Story of My Life" seemed to be the first song of the night that crowd fully embraced with a hefty applause.

More Photos: Social Distortion at the Ogden, 12/2/11

But instead of building off the momentum of "Story of My Life," the band took things down a notch with "Bakersfield," the slowest song of the night and helped mellow out the pit, which had been fairly fervent with a few crowd surfers.

"I'm looking out and seeing some scary looking criminals," Ness said after "Bakersfield." It ain't all women either. Aw, fellas I'm just fucking with ya. When I gauge a person, I don't care about how many tattoos you got. They got tattoo shops on every corner. Kids going right to the neck -- instant bad-ass. So I don't look at your appearance. I don't care about that. I look in your eyes and I see the crazy motherfuckers. You know what I'm talking about. This one's for you."

With that, the guys nailed "Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown," before closing out the set with four cuts from White Light, White Heat, White Trash Sex and Love and Rock 'n' Roll, including the country-fueled "Reach for the Sky" and ending with "Nickels and Dimes."

The most surprising moment of the night was when...

The most surprising moment of the night was when the band came back for the encore with two female singers and dug into "California (Hustle And Flow)," also from Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes, which felt like Exile on Main Street-era Stones. While the song sounded quite different than anything else in the set, or in the band's catalog for that matter, it worked well in the live setting, as did "Can't Take it With You," which also featured the back-up singers.

More Photos: Social Distortion at the Ogden, 12/2/11

While the crowd ate up "Prison Bound," but the Johnny Cash hit "Ring of Fire" completely electrified the venue, closing out a hell of a show.

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal bias: While Social D's show at the Fillmore was epic, the smaller Ogden felt like a better fit for the band.

Random detail: Ness said he was at a recent Avalanche game.

By the way: Suedehead, clearly influenced by the Jam, played a decent half hour set while former Hot Water Music singer Chuck Ragan, flanked by a stand-up bass and fiddle players, also delivered a great set.

SETLIST Social Distortion 12.02.2011 | Ogden Theatre Denver, CO

Road Zombie Bad Luck King of Fools So Far Away Another State of Mind Machine Gun Blues Mommy's Little Monster Story of My Life Bakersfield Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown I Was Wrong Reach for the Sky Dear Lover Nickels and Dimes

ENCORE California (Hustle And Flow) Can't Take it With You Prison Bound Ring of Fire

Follow Backbeat onTwitter: @westword_music

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.