Review: Rise Against at the Powerstation 31/03/09 by underground

Previously of the Chicago hardcore underground scene, Rise Against is no longer under the radar. Their latest album, Appeal to Reason, made it all the way to number three on the Billboard 200 in the States, and their latest single Audience of one is played on even the most commercial pop radio station. Punk elite may slate the band as sell outs, but when seen live it is evident that the passion and grit evident in their first album, The Unravelling, remains.

Having seen RA a couple of times before, I knew what to expect before their Powerstation show in Auckland. However, the crowd at the latest show was very different to their previous shows, with many dressed as though they were going clubbing as opposed to a punk show, indictive of how much this band had connected to a different audience of recent years, or even just months. Accordingly, their new songs were greated with cheers from the fashionably attired, whereas the earlier tracks were met with some bewilderment. From their first album, Stainglass and Marble bought the diehard old fans charging forward to scream the song in unison, whereas Re-education, Audience of One and others from Appeal to Reason got the younger fans singing along.

While some bands fail to take their songs from the studio to the stage, RA has no such problem. Vocalist Tim McIlrath’s voice never fails, replicating even the persistant, yet audio, scream of State of the Union as capably as on the original recording. After a lengthy set, the band left the stage, before returning with acoustic guitars to perform the awesome Hero of War, and the crowd favourite Swing Life Away. The volume picks up for three more encore songs, ending on the passionate Prayer of the Refugee, before the band depart and the house lights herald the end of an entertaining Tuesday night.

Sales of the band’s first four albums must have increased after that show, after the punkrock virgins got their first taste of what real live music sounds and looks like.


Review: Rise Against – Appeal to Reason (and NZ/OZ tour info!) by underground

The anticipation of listening to one of your favourite band’s latest albums for the first time is a thrill I expect I share with most music lovers. Rise Against’s Appeal to Reason will do well to impress, following 2006’s exceptional Sufferer and the Witness. From the get-go, The Sufferer and the Witness caught the listener’s attention, with epic anthems demanding you sing along at the top of your lungs. In fact, this rings true of all their previous releases. On first listen of Appeal to Reason, however, there doesn’t seem to be that same attraction. The songs overall are very good; Rise Against is arguably one of the most consistently good punk bands around, rarely putting a foot wrong. However, Rise Against is truly great when they mix it up, and some of the tracks on Appeal to Reason are a bit formulaic and on first listen, there are only a few surprises.

After giving the album another listen, I start to feel I may have been a bit harsh on Appeal to Reason. The band has grown since Sufferer and the Witness and whilst the signature sound is clearly dominant, the band has matured in its song writing. There are still the sing-alongs that make this band so great live, but greater detail has gone into the song structure and to the guitar riffs, pulling in the listener with catchy hooks. Continue reading