Social Distortion + Will Hoge @ MTelus – October 9, 2018

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Social Distortion Concert Review Live at MTelus October 9, 2018

Even if you failed Kindergarten, you could still connect the dots between Mike Ness, country, rockabilly, punk and rock-n-roll.  The birth took place 40 years ago, and the labor pains were felt for many years, as Mike overcame a drug habit, served jail time, and experienced the highs and lows of love.

With age comes experience and wisdom.  Mike broke on through to the other side. Chester Bennington, who played at a tribute show for Mike’s sobriety (Rock to Recovery), around this time 2 years ago, didn’t, sadly.

Mike, now a vegan and sober, is looking in top form.  He is not the type to pull punches, and tonight is no exception.

will hoge live photo

Will Hoge

A quick Wikipedia search for Will Hoge will tell you they are a country band.  On their way from Nashville, I believe the border patrol confiscated the country, but let them keep the rock-n-roll on this trip.

A three quarter’s packed MTelus warmed up to Will Hoge, and so did I.

Right before their last song, Mike Ness comes out and says:  “Thanks for checking these guys out.  They’re the real deal”

Talk about a rousing recommendation, from the man of the hour himself.

The set was full of rock-n-roll jet fuel, but they might have smuggled a sliver of country to give the performance some flavor, albeit well-hidden between the riffs.

social distortion montreal stage set

Social Distortion

“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers blared out of the PA to announce the band’s arrival.

As the first notes of “Reach For The Sky” reverberated throughout the venue, the mosh pit quickly rose up like a hurricane in mobile-home country.

While a mosh pit can seem chaotic, there are some unwritten rules, and it seems that some in the audience didn’t bother to brush up on their punk history classes.

First up is always the sweaty guy who lost his shirt somewhere between the beers drunk during the first band and the intermission.  This animal is existing on another plane of existence, and his eyesight is as accurate as an expired pregnancy test.  Let’s just say…he will be doing a lot of fumbling around.

In the mix, you will find your testosterone filled men, who will bounce around like the checks my pathological liar roommate used to pass on to me.

There will be the few, brave women who have nerves of steel, one of whom surfed over us a few times during the course of the evening.

This mix also had a very enthusiastic mini-Wolverine.  Luckily for us, he was declawed.  He was moshing around with the enthusiasm of a 4-year old discovering ice-cream for the first time.

Being that I’m a toddler’s age from being as old/young as Mike Ness, I was safely at the sidelines, but very close to the front.

This was by no means a circle pit, but it is expected that at some point, you will have the weight of a few people behind you pressing at you from time to time. It’s the price you pay for a good view.

The above are all fine with me…like I said…I’m wise enough to stay outside the circle. Even the brave body surfers would rarely catch a wave that would bring their joy ride above my head.

It’s the ones that get mad that people are bumping into them, that seem funny to me. If you choose to be front center… this isn’t a Celine Dion concert… get with the program.

Let us not forget the woman who would wade through the side of the mosh pit, clearly a few pints above average, and having a hard time keeping the golden liquid within the confines of her glass.  She will try to barge right up to the front, anointing these front row guardians with some barley and hops.  Oblivious to the unnatural rainfall she is creating within her vicinity, she will continue to share generously her beverage with those of us whose sleeves have not yet soaked up her unwanted gift.

Anyways…the show was not behind me so much as in front of me.  There were young ones in the audience, so trust me when I say that it was pretty contained and safe.

social distortion montreal mtelus

After “Another State of Mind”, Mike commented that he had arrived in Montreal a few days prior and just loved our city.

For some reason, it seemed genuine, when he said Montreal was the best out of all of Canada.  He scored some points there, for sure.  Then he comments on our “construction mafioso”…you know…built it up…then tear it down and build it up again.

Although Mike felt the traffic effect that Montreal is now famous for, he still would choose it over Vancouver and Toronto.

I guess the iconic Poutine and Smoked Meat are being overshadowed by our current claim to fame…traffic cones, a business I regret not investing in.

Mike even has some Canadian blood running through those rock infused veins of his, as he shared that ancestry on his mother’s side is from Nova Scotia.

Before starting another classic, “Don’t Drag Me Down”, a song Mike wrote in 1994 when he saw the racism prevalent around him at the time, he contrasted racism then and now.  24 years later, how shocked is he to find racism enabled in his country by those leading the nation.

“Have you ever been ashamed and felt society try to keep you down?” the lyrics say.

Sadly, his quest to point out the injustice and racism did not put an end to it.  It lives on, fueled by ignorance and “history books are full of lies”.

Yet, here, in this venue, young and old came together to celebrate the music that spans a career that is now legendary.

social distortion montreal review

It would be between two Johnny Cash songs (Folsom Prison Blues, which is not on the setlist + Ring of Fire) that Mike would bring up an assortment of young ones from the audience.

Between the ages of 3 and 14, he asked them their names and age.  When one was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, “a singer”, he said.  “You’ve come to the right place”, said Mike.

Mike next asked the next kid the same question.  This kid was an entrepreneur in the making.  “You have a record label, right?”, asked the second kid.  “Yes.”, said Mike Ness.  “I want to make music for your label!”

The kids were escorted off the stage, back to their parents, an older generation passing on the Social D musical torch to a younger generation.

“Ring of Fire” would end a night of legendary rock-n-roll, giving respect to the man in black, not once, but twice tonight.

Mike made sure some of the kids received some mementoes from their stage time, and a deep impression was made on these young minds that a stage awaits them in the future.

Future Social Distortionists
Future Social Distortionists

Mike Ness is the real deal.  His victory over addiction has given him new wings to soar as a performer and allowed his creative juices to work on the next album.  We caught glimpses of some of the new songs tonight, and it’s clear we won’t be disappointed with the final reveal, hopefully soon.

From the man who was at the bottom of a pit of despair, it is inspiring to see the heights one can rise to when they cast aside addiction and substances that drag you down.

One thing for sure, Social Distortion can play a powerful set, full of that same attitude that gave them the edge to succeed, album after album.

When many his age are going for the early bird special, Mike Ness will stay up late with the rest of us, young and old, and celebrate a life of rich musical history.

We’ll sleep when we’re dead…in the meantime…let’s rock-n-roll.

social distortion montreal photos

Social Distortion Setlist

Reach For The Sky
Highway 101
Don’t Take Me For Granted
She’s a Knockout
Bad Luck
Mommy’s Little Monster
Another State of Mind
Machine Gun Blues
Over You
Far Behind
Don’t Drag Me Down


Born to Kill
Angel’s Wings
Folsom Prison Blues
Ring of Fire

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