Punk rock legends Social Distortion have spent a good portion of 2015 celebrating the 25th anniversary of their breakthrough self-titled album. Released in 1990, the album was the band’s first to chart on the Billboard 200, something they have since achieved on all subsequent albums. Several of the album’s tracks became staples on alternative rock radio and are still in rotation today.
On Sunday night, Social Distortion brought their summer long album anniversary tour to a sold out House of Blues in Boston, MA. The band opened with So Far Away the lead track on the album, and would play it in order with one notable difference – the band’s cover of the Johnny Cash classic Ring of Fire was moved to the encore position of the set, as it has become one of their most popular songs. The nature of set gave fans a chance to hear Mike Ness explain the story behind some of the songs on the album, for example before playing It Coulda Been Me Ness introduced the song saying “When I wrote this song, many of my friends were dying or going to jail, me? I just wanted to play guitar.” Ness also addressed the crowd prior to A Place in My Heart saying that “love songs can be punk rock too” a comment directed at those over the years who have attempted to define punk rock and limit the bounds of it.
Following the conclusion of the album portion of the set, Mike Ness paid tribute to some of the music that influenced him in his youth with a pair of covers - The Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses and Hank Williams Alone and Foresaken. After closing out the set with Far Behind – a rarity that was released for the first time in 2007 on the band’s Greatest Hits abum – Ness & co. returned for a three song encore that included Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and the aforementioned Ring of Fire, teasing fans how they’d “forgotten” to play a certain song from the self-titled.
Many of the songs in the 17 song set were jammed out and extended longer than their original recording, giving some of the older songs a new life in the live setting. Ness did a great job of engaging with the audience between introducing songs with the stories behind them, and telling tales of himself and guitarist Jonny ‘Two Bags’ worked together as house painters in California in the mid 1980’s. The crowd was raucous all night long, crowd surfing and moshing to nearly every song, and going off in full during the show ending Ring of Fire.
Social Distortion’s self titled 25th anniversary tour continues through September 16th at the Observatory in Santa Ana, California. Dates and tickets are available via Social Distortion's official website