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Rise Against @ Birmingham O2 Academy: Compassion & Unity

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Recently dropping their latest album Wolves, Rise Against kicked off their tour in Abbotsford on the 14th of September and has ever since been on the road with their music. Their first UK show of 2017 started with Birmingham’s O2 Academy, and it was an unforgettable crowd of energy and love, ram packed to every corner of the room. The support acts on stage (Pears & Sleeping With Sirens) and everyone making their way over to merch tables to spend their cash, it’s getting hard to find a spot. But, as the final note plays for Sleeping With Sirens, fans make their way outside to get their last bit of fresh air before the venue would turn a hundred degrees up in heat – and it did. Looking back, I regret not taking that final cold breath, but with the crowd slightly parted, I managed to get a nice view from in front of the sound desk. Now the wait.

Now, one thing I will say was that the wait between support band Sleeping With Sirens and main act Rise Against was a little drawn out and long-winded. There is, I understand, a lot of setting up to do and that does take a fair while, but there was a good while where nothing was happening and the crowd entertained themselves with the music playing over the speaker – but, once the long awaited band started their introduction, the wait was worth it. Maybe I’m selfishly critiquing because I wanted a longer set and they could have fit in another two or three songs from Black Masks and Gasoline if they came on earlier.

In all honesty, though, there isn’t much I can write about a live Rise Against show that hasn’t been said before. They’re a band that’s always been known for the level of entertainment and their brilliant performances, and the amount of time they had been absent from the UK shores was a guarantee that the show was going to be perfect. With every person that arrived, the venue got tighter and tighter – to the point that the crowd stretched as far back to the bar and some having their view cut off by the fabric screen behind the sound desk. But, the entire night, the sound was on point and for my first visit to the Birmingham O2 Academy, I was very much impressed.

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The chosen setlist by Rise Against was again, on point. There were hits thrown into the mix such as ‘Prayer Of The Refugee’ and ‘Give It All’ that had such a great reception by the crowd, that massive pits opened up in front of me. Even tracks from the new album, Wolves had such a great reception. It was a crowd that only felt love for Rise Against, showing their long-term support for a band that has developed with us and this generation over the years of our upbringings. The band, who appeal to people from all walks of life, is a live performance that connects everyone in the room. Before they came on stage, there are people moaning and pushing because of how close everyone is, but by the time the band enters into the first song, there is nothing but love and compassion for everyone around. With new generations entering the scene, it’s easy to forget some of the massive rules of pitting that has seen us all through, but at Rise Against, with fans new and old, the compassion was still there among the crowd and it’s a refreshing and wonderful sight to see at a rock show.

Split up into three different sets, one of the most intimate moments the show had was the acoustic set that had the crowd singing louder than the band. A selection of songs, ‘Swing Life Away,’, ‘People Live Here’ and ‘Hero Of War’ really proves that Rise Against stick by their word, and while some people might leave the show to live a completely different life – the unity that presented itself in that crowd was huge. The band have seen through the years promoting their utopian view of the world, fighting discrimination, poverty and for total equality – and the 1st of November, inside Birmingham’s O2 Academy, each and every person was doing the same.

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