Rancid at the o2 Academy, Leeds live review

'Two decades in, Rancid show no signs of slowing down'

Photographer: Andy SquireJack Gunner on 17 December 2012

It may be hard to believe, but this tour celebrates 20 years since Rancid emerged from the ashes of Operation Ivy to become one of the most important and influential acts in punk rock history. While the Berkeley boys were undoubtedly a cornerstone of the early 90’s California punk revival, they have never known the household name status that contemporaries such as The Offspring, Bad Religion and Green Day have since achieved.

Not that they couldn’t have had they wanted to – the record company bidding war over Rancid is well documented, inspiring the title of their ‘95 masterpiece, ‘...And Out Come The Wolves’. For better or worse, Rancid have always rigidly stuck by their small label, underground status, and retained an energetic loyalty to their devoted fan base.

There have been a few instances in the past which would have suggested that the end was nigh for Rancid, but as the leather jacketed, mohawked crowds brave the Northern downpours to descend on the 02 Academy, there seems a collective feeling of relief that the boys are still standing tall.


G.B.H (6/10) provide the crowd with some decent and energetic warm-up tracks, but the atmosphere seems lacklustre as the spacious venue takes time to fill up.

As the crowds finally swell towards the front, Rancid (9/10) explode onto stage with ‘Roots Radical’ and it is instantly clear that the years have not withered them – this is the same band who helped to reshape punk many years ago, although now with a fifth member in Tim Armstrong’s impressive fisherman’s beard.

Rattling though the best of their extensive catalogue at breakneck speed, Rancid keep it fairly simple and stripped down, with no brass bands or theatrics, simply raw, uncompromising quality. The set list is pretty much Rancid-by-numbers, with tracks from ‘Wolves’ and ‘Let’s Go’ comprising the lions share of the night - though it is perhaps a little surprising that, on a tour that celebrates 20 years of Rancid, their self titled debut barely gets a look-in. Nonetheless, the o2 Academy is rarely rocked this hard and this well, and the atmosphere at a gig like this is hard to beat.

As the circle pits begin to close, Rancid seem to finish with a crowd-rousing rendition of ‘Fall Back Down’, but the crowd aren’t fooled by the false stop, and sure enough, they return on stage for a glorious, adrenaline-pumped four song encore, bookended by their signature songs, ‘Time Bomb’, and ‘Ruby Soho’.

Two decades in, Rancid show no signs of slowing down, and with an eighth album in the pipeline for 2013, the future seems bright for one of punks finest bands. Roll on 30 years.

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