IT’S 29 years since hardcore punk band Sick Of It All were formed in Queens, New York City, and it’s fair to say the scene has changed beyond recognition since then.
But while others have been lost along the way, they are going just as strong as ever, constantly touring to new generations of converts, as well as old-school fans.
An intense live proposition, they proved they are just as comfortable playing a 250-capacity venue like Think Tank as headlining a festival main stage.
This was their first North-East show in three years, and with a new album, Last Act Of Defiance, adding some fresh material to their set, it promised to be a good one.
Dipping into every corner of their back catalogue, they soon had the place jumping, with the energy emanating from the band more than matched by the well-up-for-it audience.
The years have been kind to them, none more so than frontman Lou Koller, who bounds around the stage like a man half his age.
With no barricade between the stage and the crowd, Koller, his guitarist brother Pete and bassist Craig Setari spent most of the gig dodging stage divers and slam-dancers, and it didn’t phase them a bit.
The pace was relentless from the start, slowed only by the need to replace drummer Armand Majidi’s snare, but to compensate they dispensed with the pretence of an encore, playing straight through.
All the classics that have made them legends of the hardcore scene in NYC and beyond received an airing: Clobberin’ Time, Step Down, Injustice System and Scratch The Surface among them.
Unusually for a band touring a new record, they played only a handful of songs from it, but the likes of DNC, Outgunned and Road Less Traveled were greeted with almost as much fervour as the old favourites.
Sanctuary – one of the most brutal-sounding love songs you’ll ever hear - and the closing Us Vs Them were my highspots of the night, and the only shame was that the hour-long set seemed over before it had begun.
Sick Of It All show no signs of slowing down as they approach their 30th anniversary, and the number of younger fans present suggests they’ll be in demand for a good few years yet.
A word, too for the support band, North-East five-piece My Rules, who warmed the crowd up nicely with a short set of their own songs and a couple of covers by The Abused and Agnostic Front.
All time-served in other bands, it was just their fifth gig together, and they showed enough to suggest they’re worth seeing again.
They’re at the Northumberland Arms in Newcastle on February 28 and the Black Bull in Gateshead on March 1 if you want to check them out for yourself.