Two nights in Denver was like a dream come true for this long-time fan of Social Distortion. Playing for a sold-out crowd on not just one, but on both nights of their appearance at the Ogden, which provided the perfect setting for this event. In business since 1978, this was personally my first time ever checking the boys out live. As I stated before, it was like no other experience I have ever had.
Walking up to the venue on opening night, I could see the line as it gently wrapped around the front of the Ogden. Upon entering, the crowd was even more vast and I could tell that this was going to be a very epic night indeed. As I approached the doors leading into the main stage area, the floor was already so packed and the first act had yet to take the stage. Social D pulls a huge crowd, from young to old. I was happy to see so many come out to enjoy the music many of us grew up with. As the time draws near, the stage lights begin to dim and the opening act takes the stage.
Taking the stage wearing a gold shimmery glitter jacket and accompanied by her band, was the beautifully talented Jade Jackson. Found by Mike Ness while performing in small coffee shops in Southern California, this amazing young woman has a voice like no other. Within seconds of her beginning, I was completely entranced. Her voice, the perfect mix of gentleness and soul as she croons some of the new songs to be released on her debut CD due out May 19th. Such passion in her voice and accompanied by her acoustic capabilities, it’s quite obvious why Mike decided to take this young filly under his wing. Once saying she loved watching Mike Ness take the stage and captivate the crowd, Jade stated that she wanted to be able to do that one day and my goodness tonight she certainly has. Pouring her heart into her performance, she commands the audience and gained quite a few fans in the process, I’m sure. Entertaining the sold-out crowd, we learn on night two that she has been terribly sick as of late, yet still managed to take the stage and take our hearts with her. Not a small feat to do when her set was about an hour long each night. I would highly recommend picking up her album ‘Gilded’ when it drops in mid-May, even if you don’t listen to country music, this one will change your mind.
After a brief intermission, Mike Ness and the boys of Social Distortion take the stage. The crowd immediately erupted in cheer. For some, this, like me, is their first time ever seeing the band live but for most here, this would be their countless time. Coming from all over, even surrounding states for this show, you can look out from the stage and not see a single empty area on the floor. Playing to a packed house as always, Social D manages to sell out shows wherever they go. Opening the set with ‘So Far Away’ and following up with their huge hit ‘Bad Luck’, Mike croons at the crowd and they sing right along with him, word for word, the sound filling the room. Mid set, a huge mosh pit breaks out, crowd surfing begins and the night at a punk rock show now feels complete. Cranking out more hits from days’ past, they break into another one ‘Ball & Chain’ and ‘99 To Life’. If you are a diehard fan, then you know the journey of Mike Ness. In 1985, the band took a brief hiatus while Mike was in and out of various rehab centers and jails. Reforming in 1986, the band released their album “Prison Bound” which didn’t top the charts and produced a distinctly different sound than the band’s debut “Mommy’s Little Monster”, perhaps influenced by the situations Mike Ness was going through at the time. In 1990 they released their self-titled album which produced most of the hits that were played on both nights of the show. After such a long journey, Mike has since been sober while the crowd shows great respect for all he has been through. Some of the best music comes from internal struggle within. True passion flows through the words and through the instruments, connecting to the audience more than most music would. Combine powerful lyrics with stellar compositions and you have music that lives on through the ages. A true testament to time. Closing out the night with ‘Story of My Life’ and the tribute to the man himself, Johnny Cash, Mike plays ‘Ring of Fire’ with such conviction, it almost brings me to tears. My life is now complete after seeing this set. I can’t even put in to so many words just how happy I was to have the chance to see such greatness on stage and was blown away by not only Social Distortion, but the opening act of Jade Jackson. What an epic two nights filled with amazing music. I would encourage all to check out this tour as it comes to a city near you.
Special thanks to the people of AXS Entertainment for bringing this event to the Ogden and for all those involved with giving us these two nights of pure bliss.
If you are eager to see the boys live, check out the rest of the dates for future shows and don’t miss out on your chance to witness history on stage.
Thanks again for the read! Stay tuned for more music, arts and entertainment from the Denver local scene coming your way soon. Make sure to give our page a like and follow to not miss out on any of the action!!
Photos by John Root
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