Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of their self-titled 1990 LP, Social Distortion brought the party to a packed House of Blues in Dallas, TX.  Led by an exuberant Mike Ness, the band tore through the album in its entirety, covered the Stones’ “Wild Horses” and Hank Williams’ “Alone And Forsaken,” and capped off the evening with an encore featuring “Folsom Prison Blues.” It was, in no uncertain terms, a classic set that will be long remembered by those in attendance.

When the band opened the show with “So Far Away,” you would have thought they were in their 20s and peddling their first major label album. I wasn’t transported back to 1990, but I was overcome with the feeling that these songs sound just as exciting today, as they were more than twenty years ago. That is somewhat of a testament to Social Distortion’s live performance. They didn’t come off as some old rockers knocking the dust off their “classic” material because they no longer write good material. No, they seemed genuinely inspired and determined to rock your pants off. What’s more, I learned that Mike Ness is even a better guitar player than I had originally realized. I had just seen the band last October, but for whatever reason, Ness’ guitar playing really stood out during this set.

You could also tell that he was proud of the set the band had assembled. The cover of “Wild Horses” was exceptional. If I’m being honest, and I am, “Wild Horses” is a song that I’ve always liked, but found a little boring. Ness and company, however, kicked it up a beat and turned it into a raucous affair. The bands cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” received an intense roar of approval from the crowd and by the time they closed the set with “Ring of Fire,” no one in the crowd was ready to leave. Alas, the house lights came on and we all gleefully shuffled outside.

It’s worth noting that Social D has serious merch game. From the time I arrived, right before opener Nikki Lane’s set, there was a 25-foot-long line to the merch table. While the system was quite efficient and moved people through relatively quickly, that line never seemed to shorten. Perhaps it’s because there’s a zillion Social D items to choose from, such as koozies, bottle openers, key chains, foam fingers, stickers, scarves, flags, a commemorative tour poster, at least five different t-shirt designs (boys and girls), hoodie, jacket, baseball hat and I promise you there’s something else I’m forgetting. I’m certain the road crew can set up the Social D stage faster than the merch crew can set up the booth.

Social Distortion is one of America’s great rock and roll bands. They have woven together the sounds of rock, punk, and country into their own unique brand of Americana. They’re currently touring through mid-September and if you’re a Social D fan, or just a lover of music, you owe it to yourself to see them when they come to your city.

– J. Kevin Lynch

Check out more Social Distortion live photos on our Facebook photo album.

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