Scintillating, glorious, inspired, staggering, astounding, sublime, resplendent, remarkable, kryptonian, flawless, majestic, fucking brilliant these are the thoughts in your head when the lights go up at La Cartonnerie here in Reims.
Suicidal Tendencies have no right to be this good; I mean this good after so many years. But what do I know? Okay so it’s the last night of the French tour and indeed its au revoir to Europe for now (the band will be back at festivals this summer), but man oh man they brought their A game tonight.
The last time I had witnessed ST live was back in the mid-90s on the eve of their split, so tonight was long overdue. Then, they were clouded by uncertainly and a feeling that their best days were well behind them. In 2017 singer Mike Muir is evidently in a great place and his band are super tight.
22Below open up the show. The Dutch band have been on tour with Suicidal throughout the French tour and on the face of it seemed like an odd choice to open up for them given their melodic tunes. Singer Madelief Licht is like a beacon of light though; you just can’t keep your eyes off her. In a truly different style she sings at the back of the stage by the drum riser, bolstered onto a platform.
Whether the French crowd were just in a good mood or attitudes have changed is anyone’s guess. Had 22Below opened for Suicidal in the 90’s they most probably would have been pelted off stage simply for being different. Nevertheless there is no doubting the bands talent and it is a relief that they end their set with a good reception, they deserved it.
Of course were all here for one band and one band only, and when Suicidal take to the stage the 1,000 capacity venue goes into overdrive. Mike Muir all 54 years of him covers every inch of the stage, running back and forth, flapping his hands and never showing his age as the band launch into the anti PMRC song ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down’. Muir complete with his trademark bandana is the same guy I saw 20 or so years ago but there’s one obvious difference, he’s content.
Repeatedly during the show Muir talks about some life lessons handed down by his father but it never lapses into preaching. He keeps it short n’ sweet, as the band race through a 15 song set. ‘I Shot Regan’ has been played more times this year than in the past 23 and it’s always a welcome site to hear the old tunes of which there are plenty.
We get three songs from last year’s release World Gone Mad, ‘Clap Like Ozzy’ may just be the bands best song in a generation and is an introduction of sorts to latest recruitment the one and only Dave Lombardo on drums. The ex-Slayer sticks man gets his very own introduction from Muir tonight. The other two songs from the new record are ‘Get Your Fight On!’ and show closer ‘Living for Life’.
There are a slew of guilty pleasures to behold; ‘I Saw Your Mommy’, ‘War inside Your Head’ and ‘Send Me Your Money’ goes down a storm. In the middle of the gig Muir invites what seems to be the entire audience onto the stage with the question “do you skate”? If so you’re allowed on stage. I’d hazard a guess that the only skaters on the stage were the band themselves but that’s cynical old me. Security simply aren’t prepared for the chaos that ensues especially when fans start to stage dive, for me it really is the mid-90’s all over again. And just to make sure everyone really is having fun Muir repeats the trick for the encore.
The positivity coming off of the band truly is electric; they will be back for Download and in France Hellfest this summer. Tonight was something rather special that ends with strangers hugging each other, Muir posing for selfies and Dave Lombardo standing by the edge of the stage simply staring out to the crowd in awe. Yes it’s one of those nights.