Author and Photographer: Jonathan Stark (Stark Raving Mad Photography LLC)
Alright, this was the moment…. A big moment for me, for a ton of fans, for The Ogden Theater in Denver, and the punk loyal of the metro area. Bad Religion performing a litany of their greatest songs in front of an eager, mildly insane, sweaty and committed audience. It was a sing along from the first note of “Them and Us.”
I’m going to pause right there for a moment to tell a short story. It’s a bit of my story, which is not unlike many fans in attendance. At one point, a long time ago, I was a boy mowing my parents’ lawn listening to a cassette tape of “Suffer.” That’s right, a cassette tape, on my yellow Walkman. Shut up. Listening over and over and over again. That album sealed my love for punk music indefinitely. Bad Religion has continued to put out stellar albums and are now on their 17th studio album, “The Age of Unreason.” Which is the catalyst for the current tour.
Back to it… the tension was built as the opening performance by Dave Hause and The Mermaid teased the headliner to come. Interesting tid bit- Jay Bentley’s son Miles plays bass with The Mermaid portion of Dave Hause and The Mermaid. Come on people, Jay Bentley plays and has played bass for Bad Religion since… I don’t know when. I can’t absolutely confirm that Miles was playing with them in Denver, but Wikipedia said it’s true, so therefore. They played on a professional level, with poise and energy. It was a pretty good showing and fans could be heard in the audience.
As aforementioned, “Them and Us” was first up on Bad Religion’s list and it was less them and us, as it was just us. As it should be at any great show, punk or otherwise, everyone was singing. Well perhaps not the multitude in the pit, but most everyone else.
Lead man on the mic Greg Graffin was the same as always. I’ve seen them kill it since the 90’s and his onstage mannerisms haven’t changed a bit. His voice hasn’t either, power and wit. Greg and crew steered the ship like a phone booth through time. What, too old? Like a hot tub through time. Better? No? Ok, like they had the Time Stone. They weaved in and out of the fabric of time, touching bits of hits from every era. The history of the band as an organic whole, the current and former members, the sound and the message have influenced generations. Regardless of if you believe wholeheartedly, partially or not the slightest in the messages of Bad Religion there is something special in the sound and energy they bring to the stage. It’s always been that way.
From “Stranger than Fiction” to “End of History” and “Generator” to “Paranoid Style” the songs just kept hammering away at the audience. Fans let go and gave themselves over to the Ooos and Aaahs, to the sound of Jay Bentley’s popping bass, Mike Dimkich and Brian Baker’s expertly executed strumming, and Jamie Miller’s pounding rhythm. Man, do those guys work well together or what?
Another side note, Mike Dimkich can chew some gum. The unassuming guitarist is not only an avid gum chewer and a pro on the strings, but also a serious bike rider. I believe he was able to get in some time on the two-wheeler while visiting Colorado. He fit right in with the Golden locals; hats off to him to bike at high elevation.
The highlight of the evening came when “Sorrow” was performed. Everyone went crazy. You could feel the excitement and energy shift. As excited as the crowd had been throughout the evening, the enthusiasm was now so thick and rich you could have slapped it between two slices of toast and sold it on the corner for a late-night snack. Then, as if that was not good enough, Bad Religion poured out a whole cup of delicious encore. I won’t mention the songs to protect your surprise, but you won’t be disappointed.
This concert was incredible. Do yourselves a favor and check them out as the tour passes through your locale. And hey, thanks for reading through until the end. I hope you enjoy the accompanying gallery of shots from the show.
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