BAD RELIGION: 30 YEARS LIVE (2010)
1) Fuck Armageddon, This Is Hell; 2) Dearly Beloved; 3) Suffer; 4) Man With A Mission; 5) New Dark Ages; 6) Germs Of Perfection; 7) Marked; 8) A Walk; 9) Flat Earth Society; 10) Resist Stance; 11) American Jesus; 12) Social Suicide; 13) Atheist Peace; 14) Tomorrow; 15) Won't Somebody; 16) Los Angeles Is Burning; 17) We're Only Gonna Die.
I suppose that every band that has managed to last for 30 years — yes, even Chicago! — is entitled to a live album commemorating such a jubilee, particularly if it is offered as a free download, so that nobody has any official reason to complain: if you don't want it, pretend it never existed, and don't worry about your refunds. And besides — honestly, not every rock'n'roll band will last 30 years without losing a single vibration of their original sound. Of course, sticking to hardcore regulations helps a lot: unlike, say, The Rolling Stones, you have to keep yourself in super-tight shape at all times to match the format. No matter how many chords are involved — throw yourself off the rhythm once or twice and you're dead. From that point of view, 30 years on, Bad Religion are, indeed, very much alive.
Most sources state that the 30-year jubilee tour went a notch higher in pomposity than usual: every night, the band would play exactly 30 songs, which extended the preferable length of the show to about twice as long as required by everybody's understanding of the norms of hardcore. (For some reason, they only played about 20 dates, though, which drags down the symbolic value of the tour). Furthermore, no single setlist repeated itself more than once, assuring us all that Bad Religion are capable of such endearing silliness as memorizing their entire catalog (not that it should require a particularly large stock of memory cells, but Graffin does have to remember all the words, not to mention spitting 'em out at rapid-fire rates — that university degree has got to count for something, after all).
Disappointingly, the resulting album only has 17 songs, clocking in at a measly 41 minutes — a strange decision, since a 70-minute download with thirty songs in 2010 would hardly result in overclocking anybody's bandwidth. The «defective» setlist consequently overlooks several key albums — nothing from No Control or The New America, for instance — and is heavily biased towards the «new shit», with around three songs each for the new albums and even a preview of a couple numbers from the upcoming Dissent Of Man. Obviously, this is supposed to mean that even thirty years into their career, Bad Religion are still as relevant for the world as they used to be — and even though we might be sick to death of them already, we still have to admit that, in a way, this is absolutely true.
Rating this album feels useless: the performances are predictably top-notch and just as predictably predictable, with both sides canceling out each other's excitement and boredom. The setlist does tilt somewhat into the «non-hit» direction: many of the oldies and most of the «newies» are either second-row singles or non-singles, so you get a chance to refresh stuff like ʽMarkedʼ or ʽTomorrowʼ in your memories. And, conspicuously, the album both opens and closes with a number from How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, implying that, perhaps, after all, the band does acknowledge that it already had said it all on their first LP — and that everything that followed was just for the pinheads who didn't get it straight the first time. Other than that, there is really nothing else to prompt any serious mental activity on the part of the reviewer.