Old age is Hell. Especially if you're punk rock icons who are looking as long in the tooth as Greg Graffin and the other members of Bad Religion did last night during their show at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe.
Sadly, for bands like this it's hard to age gracefully. The theatrics that entertained audiences in their twenties and thirties aren't as exciting. The baldness and weight gain make them look more like a high school football coach on a drunken karaoke bender. The faces in the crowd keep getting older as the years go by, too.
In fact, the 46-year-old Graffin looked more like some middle-aged science teacher (which, of course, he sorta is) when he dished out onstage postures and pantomimes while wearing a polo shirt and black slacks.
At least he was cool enough to poke fun at himself during breaks in between songs. "As we're getting older we're still trying to do more athletic moves for the entertainment value," he said. "My pit days are long over."
While Graffin's moves seemed a bit half-hearted and ham-handed, his unique singing voice seemed as strong as ever as the band fired off song after song in breathless fashion. As evidenced by the setlist below, the gig featured a collection Bad Religion hits from yesteryear, which is only appropriate considering the band is celebrating its 30th year of existence.
And the rest of the band was equally energetic, belying their advancing age with plenty of power as they unleashed hit song after hit song. There was also plenty of reminiscing about that band three decades of existence, including dredging up a memory of performing in a boxing ring with JFA at the old Mad Gardens back in the 1980s.
It may have been a variation on the standard city-specific shout-out than musicians tend to provide during their concerts, but it felt like a nice touch to reference a bit of Phoenix's punk past.
1. Do What You Want
3. Sinister Rouge
4. We're Only Gonna Die
5. Recipe for Hate
6. Flat Earth Society
8. Resist Stance
9. I Want to Conquer the World
10. 21st Century Digital Boy
11. New Dark Ages
12. The Devil in Stitches
13. Hear It
14. Let Them Eat War
15. Only Rain
16. 10 in 2010
20. Atomic Garden
21. Wrong Way Kids
22. No Control
24. Los Angeles is Burning
25. American Jesus
26. Generator (encore)
27. Sorrow (encore)
28. Fuck Armageddon...This Is Hell (encore)
Personal Bias: Unlike Mr. Shawn Anderson, I happen to own a "Crossbuster" sticker.
The Crowd: Aging punks, and lots of 'em. Not to mention, a few dudes in buttoned-up long sleeved dress shirts.
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Overheard: "It sucks that there isn't much of a pit going on right now."
Random Notebook Dump: I'm covered with the sweat from a dozen people.
Number of scenery changes: Three. The stage background went from the words "Bad Religion" projected onto a screen, then the artwork for their latest album The Dissent of Man, and then the "Crossbuster" logo.
One Last Thing: Bad Religion came back to the stage for its encore to Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance," although Graffin and his bandmates weren't dressed as Macho Man Randy Savage.