Live Review: Social Distortion return to Denver with a punk performance to remember

For a punk outfit that has toured through Denver for nearly 30 years now, Social Distortion shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

The band played to a sold-out crowd at the Ogden Theater Thursday, March 31 in a string of Colorado performances beginning at the Boulder Theater on March 29.

Sharing the stage with Social Distortion was opener Jade Jackson. The slight country influence of Jackson and her band complimented well next to the country rock and cowpunk style that Social Distortion helped pioneer. Touring with Social Distortion has provided a platform for Jade Jackson to promote her upcoming debut album, Glided, which releases May 19. Jackson’s beautiful vocal melodies next to the bands well-executed country playing style provided the crowd with plenty of reasons to check out the group’s new material when it drops.

After taking a hiatus from touring, Social Distortion have hit the road with over 20 national tour dates scaling across nine states. A couple of years have elapsed since the prolific punk rock band have taken the stage, although it would seem as if they never left the spotlight. With half of the band now in their 50s, Social Distortion have proven that they intend to keep their musical legacy alive and well for many years to come. Throughout the night Social Distortion played a variety of songs in a setlist that seemed to highlight some of their strongest material in their discography. Frontman Mike Ness demonstrated his versatility and prowess as a lead guitarist while maintaining his signature gruff and powerful singing voice throughout. Tracks such as “99 to Life,” “Scars” and “Ball and Chain” revealed Ness’s impressive technicality as a guitarist while being able to maintain a fluid leading vocal melody.

One of the most enlightening elements of the show was the way Social Distortion exhibited a sense of earnestness in their stage presence. In between every couple of songs within the set Mike Ness took the opportunity to speak to the audience on numerous issues both personal and political. Rather than coming across as preachy, Ness’s messages seemed wholehearted in the way he approached each subject. A few of the topics Ness touched on included the current turmoil within the United States’ political climate and the corruption within the mainstream news media. The honesty and truthfulness in Ness’s short speeches never wore out their welcome and the social commentary mirrored that of the inspiration behind a lot of his lyricism.

 It was a nice addition that served as a reminder of what punk rock is all about- honest music that can simultaneously include a message revolving around the issues we currently face as a society today. Social Distortion concluded the set with a presentation of some new material before returning again to the stage for a fiery encore as the crowd roared for more. The group went out with a bang through a four song encore that included some of the bands most praised material including, “Story of my Life” and the bands infamous cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” As the lights dimmed a final time before the house lights flooded the venue, the lively audience applauded for a stretch of time that indicated it was a show worth remembering.

For more information on Social Distortion including upcoming tour dates, music news and more visit their AXS page, their Facebook or their website.


"I Was Wrong"
"Bad Luck"
"Don’t Drag Me Down"
"Sweet and Lowdown"
"Ball and Chain"
"99 to Life"
"Cold Feelings"
"Burden Down"
"When She Begins"

"Dear Lover"
"Gotta Know the Rules"
"Story of My Life"
"Ring of Fire"