Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Offspring @ Apollo, Manchester

10 March 2004

Hit that! And they did, beating out a passionate yet crisp and uniformly composed routine of pop-punk-perfection, complete with psychedelic lighting and some of those expensive LED frets. The old boys of ’90s punk, The Offspring were in town.

The Orange County high school pals still know how to rock a venue. Dexter Holland (vocals/guitar), Noodles (guitar), Greg K (bass) and new boy Atom Willard, formerly of Rocket From The Crypt (drums, taking the place of Ron Welty), make up the band who’ve sold some 32 million records. Their efforts have paid off and as The Offspring delivered fresh material from their seventh album Splinter, pooled with tracks such as the classic Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) and the anthemic Come Out And Play, they had the combination audience aged seven to 70, crowd surfing, horn throwing, skanking, and going crazy.

Arriving late, I was just in time for Rufio, in front of whom I stood quite bored. After another half hour, our headliners graced the stage. Taking a metaphoric back seat (for a change), I stood safely at the rear of the room, in clear view of the illuminated stage, while pits of diehard devotees worshipped their punk gods. The crowd was in fervent delight, fighting for a front row view, an acknowledging nod from Dexter, or just a beer can – Noodles’ beer can in fact, which was caught as it happens by a pal.

My place in the crowd presented protection from kicks in the head – though I still couldn’t avoid a water soaking. Most fans appeared not a little insane, but meant no harm.

Incorporating topics like commitment, empowerment and paranoia, new album Splinter varies in mood but does not offer hatred – and that’s borne out by the live show. Soft-hearted underneath their punky outer shell, these old-school kids came out to play – and that’s the meaning of life!

It was an impressive musical feat – tone-perfect riffs of precision and an effortless creation of concentrated ambience. I left the gig noting the well-exercised look of much of the crowd, faces glowing, smiling (fair enough, sweating…), and hugely satisfied.

“I’m thinking maybe we can do this for a few more years,” said Dexter. That’s what we like to hear!

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The Offspring @ Apollo, Manchester