Hot off the Press

LIVE! | Suicidal Tendencies

by Alissa Ordabai
– Senior Columnist —

July 7, 2013 at Electric Ballroom, London, United Kingdom —

Once innovative and edgy, these days Suicidal Tendencies fit like an old shoe. Not quite a nostalgia act, but the kind of a band that raises no controversy. Which is a good thing when you want a night of adrenaline-fuelled, straightforward fun, not some ponderous metal-meets-prog-meets-jazz kind of trip where getting your money’s worth is not a guarantee. With Suicidal Tendencies you know what to expect.

Suicidal Tendencies

Almost the entire set tonight was ST’s 1980s hits – an illustration of how an era can define a band. The band has, of course, in turn defined the era, but after finding their groove early on, ST stayed loyal to it for three decades running. Their newly released album 13 may sound more pop-punk than thrash, but adopting a lighter touch doesn’t mean going into a new direction. And this could be the reason why tonight they played only two songs from the new record: the old bangers convey the same message, only with more persuasive power.

Still, no matter how familiar the songs are, you still get a headrush when those furious, tightly wound numbers collide with a sweatbox club full of short-fused fans. And the crowd mirrored what went on onstage: the disciplined fracas of moshing and crowd-surfing matched the controlled brutality of the music. While the punters jumped, yelled, and ran affray, the band dished out one whiplash of a song after another like machine-gun rounds: jumpy grooves, Mike Muir’s shouty voice, and compact rapid-fire guitar solos.

But here’s the catch: you may get carried away by the pumping locomotion of the band’s wild mixture of thrash and punk, but the chops behind all this mayhem are shrewdly, calculatedly virtuosic. Dean Pleasants is a master of laconic thrash fire, but also an uncanny funk player. And when his thrash meets his funk, the end result is like tasting a pizza topped with wild sturgeon. No wonder the band has always been praised as the most influential crossover act in the history of metal – that special knack of mixing the unmixable still puts you in awe, 30 years on.

Set List:
1. You Can’t Bring Me Down
2. Smash It!
3. Freedumb
4. War Inside My Head
5. Subliminal
6. I Saw Your Mommy
7. Who’s Afraid?
8. Send Me Your Money
9. We Are Family
10. Possessed to Skate
11. Cyco Vision
12. How Will I Laugh Tomorrow
13. Pledge Your Allegiance