LIVE: The Offspring / Bad Religion / Templeton Pek @ The Eventim Apollo

By Christopher Lee

It’s a stormy Thursday night in London town and the Atmosphere inside the the Apollo is electric. But of course when you’re about to witness not one, but two iconic punk bands strut their stuff what else can you expect. The Offspring and Bad Religion have joined forces for their ‘Punk Rock Summer Nationals’ tour and what a treat it is.

Kicking things off first however are Templeton Pek. The Birmingham trio have previously toured with the likes of NOFX, Rise Against and Alkaline Trio so it’s safe to say that they know their way around. Their anthemic, heavy sound goes a long way to getting the almost full crowd ready for what’s to come and by the time their almost flawless set comes to an end with ‘Damage Control’ they leave to an applause worthy of a job well done and a crowd eager for the night’s main entertainment.

Now for me Bad Religion (are) were on my list of ‘Bands I’ve always wanted to see but never managed to’ but all that is about to change. The Los Angeles based 6 piece punks are a band who needs no introduction. They’ve been around for four decades now and manage to maintain their relevance through somewhat political lyrics which is apt on the eve of a referendum which, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you’ll know has completely divided the country.

The band storm the stage with The Offspring’s Dexter Holland watching on in the wings opening with ‘Crisis Time’ and ‘Social Suicide’ in blistering pace and by the time we get to ‘Los Angeles is Burning’ it almost feels like Hammersmith is burning. It’s been a while since I’ve been this sweaty at a gig. Front man Greg Graffin may be in his 50s and reminds me of a cross between my step-dad and boss at work, but he owns the stage with the energy of someone half his age and with vocals that suggest he is far from being done. What’s even nicer to see is the enjoyment he clearly gets from these shows, still proclaiming to the crowd that this is “the biggest crowd we’ve played to in London ever!” Now as I’ve mentioned above it’s the day before the EU referendum and true to form it gets a mention with Greg reminding the crowd that theirs is the voice that matters above all else. “You are the Government,” he tells them before launching in to the song of the same name.

Throughout the whole set Greg’s vocals show no signs of faltering and being backed up by a band who having gone through more than enough line-up change over the years still seem to be as tight as ever. They smash through their set with what seems like a constant flow of crowd surfers reaching the stage and leaving with huge smiles on their faces. Bad Religion are still very much a force to be reckoned with after all this time.

Now you could be forgiven for thinking the crowd would be all out of energy but think again! A brief respite and some fresh air are all that’s required to get everyone back in the mood for your favourite 90s white guy and he doesn’t disappoint. Taking to the stage looking pretty fly in a burgundy blazer and launching straight into ‘You’re Gonna Go Far Kid’, Dexter ensures the place is immediately jumping. The band are on fire and the jacket doesn’t last long as they shred through ‘Come Out and Play’, ‘All I Want’, ‘Million Miles Away’ and ‘Staring at the Sun’ whilst Noodles runs laps of the stage, high fiving as many of the crowd as he can reach who seem to be singing back every word and generally having the best time ever, something Dexter picks up on asking if “you’ve been working out? There’s so much sexual energy coming from you guys.”

The set list seems to be hit after hit with barely any time to take it all in between tracks! By the time we’ve jumped up and down endlessly to ‘Hit That’, ‘Why Don’t You Get a Job’ and ‘Want You Bad’ in a row, Dexter steps in for a quick chat and to proclaim that this is “the best crowd to ever happen in music in the history of the world,” much to the pleasure to those in attendance. Now it wouldn’t be a punk gig the day before a huge political event without Dexter leting the crowd know that whichever way you plan on voting, The Offspring loves one and all. He also knows the perfect song for the moment, it would appear, as they perform a cover of The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ which goes down a treat.

They finish a storming set with tight renditions of ‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’ and ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’, and a superb encore of ‘Americana’ and ‘Self Esteem’ which leaves both the band and crowd having given everything, and me a sweaty mess with no voice. The show is a reminder that people of all ages and races can be brought together for the love of music and perhaps the rest of the country could learn something from us kids who just like to jump around to our favourite bands together and have fun… And if not at least we know we can always go on Ricki Lake!