When Mike Ness of Social Distortion plays anywhere in my vicinity, I want to be there. I’ve seen Social Distortion live at least a dozen times all over the U.S., and have been known to work my travel schedule around their tour stops. On this particular date they’d be playing the beautiful Capital Theatre in downtown Port Chester, NY, just an hour or so by train from my not so comfy confines in Manhattan.
As usual, there were some excellent musicians opening, and they were so impressive that I plan to write about each of them separately at a later date.
In the meantime more about the show: Social Distortion, came out as energized as I’ve seen in a while. In fact, this was the best show of the band I’ve witnessed since Mike Ness took the stage in Mulcahy’s Long Island playing “Road Zombie” with a full on outlaw bandana around his face around about the time when “Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes” came out several years ago (2007?)
Ness looked healthy and happy to be in the Northeast and all the guys quite clearly “brung it.” Veering off script a bit this time around, there was not the typical “Ball & Chain,” “Sick Boy” or “Born to Lose” but there was plenty more from Social D’s vast treasure trove of songs.
I’m most excited about the fact that I FINALLY after all this time was able to catch “Don’t Drag Me Down” played live for the very first time.
I had read how Mike Ness had gotten into a spot of trouble in California a few weeks back when he said a few anti-Trump things on stage and some douchebag used that as an excuse to get disrespectful and flip him off for an extended period of time in the front row, eventually goading Ness into punching him and, this being the U.S., lawsuits were filed of course.
This time, it was a more respectful crowd, and when Ness talked about writing “Don’t Drag Me Down” in the 90’s after observing racists at his shows, I knew what was coming next.
This band and more specifically, that song, single-handedly turned this “punk but didn’t know it” grown-ass man onto the beauty and angry sounds of not only punk music but the punk lifestyle and punk friends all over the world from Latin America to Asia to Europe and Russia.
So, I always get a tad emotional about Social Distortion and hearing “Don’t Drag Me Down,” a motto for my adult life and another blog I author HERE in my spare time, hearing Mike Ness denounce racism and intolerance today, just as he did when he wrote those powerful lyrics in 1994, it was tough to hold the camera and my emotions steady long enough to film the song.
But I did record the entire song and while I know it’s technically a copyright violation and I deeply respect copyright and intellectual property rights, I’m sharing now.
I’ve shared his concert footage before and no one has flagged and I just feel this song’s lyrics are just too important too keep to myself and that Mike Ness himself would approve. I hope it stays up so here you go.
As you can see if you watch until the end, he closed out the set with this song.
After the obligatory encore, Ness & Co. closed the event with a couple of Cash tunes, including his customary now semi-famous and rollicking rendition and the cover of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash which was the grand finale as it often is.
I was high for a few days from the feeling of seeing Social D. live again. Still am.
Enjoy the video and pics!