When Social Distortion opened the second of a two-night stint at Fillmore with not one, but three songs from Mommy's Little Monster, you'd think a crowd would have gone bat shit to hear material from the band's 1983 debut album. But it wasn't until "Sick Boys" that energy in the Fillmore heightened tremendously. And this was after plowing through searing versions of "The Creeps," "Another State of Mind" and "Mommy's Little Monster."
From there, frontman Mike Ness, sounding as good as he did three decades ago, and a solid crew of players, which included former U.S. Bombs/Cadillac Tramps guitarist Jonny Wickersham, bassist Brent Harding and Suicidal Tendencies drummer David Hildago Jr., tore through another dozen or so tunes with reckless abandon, inciting mosh pits with nearly every song.
Before going into "Don't Drag Me Down," from 1996's While Light, White Heat, White Trash, Ness said the song was about ignorance and racism in America. After motoring through "Bad Luck" and "Bye Bye Baby," both from 1992's Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell, Ness took a few minutes to talk to the audience.
"I look out in the crowd, I'm seeing some survivors out there," Ness said. "You don't grow up in Denver and live this long and not be a survivor. I've strolled old Colfax at three in the morning."
A moment later, Ness went into a joke: "A funny thing happened to me the other day. The maid in the hotel walked in on me, I was stark naked, sitting on bed. You know what I said to her. I said, 'Finally, I've been waiting three hours for you.'"
Ness looked near the front of the audience and said, "Don't make me come down and choke a bitch." It wasn't entirely clear what spurred the comment on, but then crowd starting "choke, choke, choke."
Ness then prefaced "Still Alive," which will be on the band's new album slated for release in January, by saying, "This is a song about surviving." With it's tried and true Social Distortion formula, the song has potential to easily be band's next hit single. The crowd clearly it ate it up, which isn't surprising, as it's been about six years since the band's last studio effort, Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll.
After some first-rate takes on "Ball and Chain" and "Through These Eyes," the band started into "King of Fools," but Ness stopped the tune after a few bars. "I don't know if I'm feeling it," Ness said. "Let me tune this piece of shit," he said referring to his Les Paul with the "13" sticker on it.
With that, the band started it over and kicked out a fiery version of the tune, followed by "Machine Gun Blues," another song from the forthcoming album. Social Distortion closed out the encore with "Story of My Life" with the crowd singing along, quite the auspicious ending to a damn fine show.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal bias: I went with luke-warm expectations, but that was all pretty much blown out of the water by the first song. Random detail: I heard a rumor that Ness was shopping for antiques earlier in the day. By the way: Lucero and Frank Turner both delivered solid sets.
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Social Distortion 10.16.10 | Fillmore Auditorium Denver, CO
The Creeps Another State of Mind Mommy's Little Monster Sick Boys Don't Drag Me Down Bad Luck Bye Bye Baby Still Alive Ball and Chain Through These Eyes Bakersfield King of Fools Machine Gun Blues Making Believe
So Far Away Prison Bound Story of My Life