Before the veterans of punk took to the stage though it was Fat Mike’s third favourite band ever, Snuff, who were charged with warming us all up and boy did the Brits shows us all just how much they haven’t grown up. Snuff have been going for years and as Lee Batsford (bass) said to the enthralled crowd, “This song’s older than most of you,” before launching into one of their typically thrashy-rasta-punk numbers. It didn’t matter what they played, Snuff had fans here and a lot of open minds who were willing to sway to any beat that came their way. The London boys were cocky and full of bloody minded adolescent spirit as they pogoed around the stage singing, “What an arsehole, what a fucking wanker.” With a song called ‘Fuck Off’ and Batsford on banter duty, Snuff were the perfect act to open for NOFX and are living proof of the idiom, “Punk's not dead.”
It’s been a long time since Manchester has seen so many punks in one place and it’s been a long time since these punks, young and old, have gotten the chance to wear their Lagwagon, Lars Frederiksen, and Pisschrist tee shirts out of their houses, so rightfully then everyone is, to use an Americanism, "stoked" that NOFX are rolling through town.
Between El Heffe and Fat Mike’s usual skits about race, religion, and politics NOFX find the time to speak with the adults of the audience about serious matters like the significance of crowd positioning. “Your daughter’s on the front row, she’s a slut,” and, “Dude, your face is bleeding,” obviously both were said to hearty applause and the sarcastic sound of a skulking trumpet. At some point during the evening NOFX also played a—to use the technical term—shit ton of songs from the hits of 'Punk In Drublic,' ‘Linoleum,’ ‘Leave It Alone’ and ‘Don’t Call Me White’ to the songs which, according to Fat Mike are, “really unpopular and none of you have probably ever heard it, but it’s my favourite NOFX song,” as well as newer tracks like ‘Seeing Double At The Triple Rock.’
Like Snuff before them, people here don’t care what NOFX play live, it’s the simple act of being in the same room as them as they play that we’re all here to see. The reason people are still watching NOFX after 29 years together is not just because they play their chords in a feisty manner, but because they make each show special, it’s this improvisational nature that the punk world has fallen in love with. They play different songs at every show, god knows they have enough, and they riff off the crowd, they’re a band that are where they are because of the fans and they know this. They take the time to thank us for keeping them accustomed to their lifestyle which, yes, does involve cup holders on microphone stands and you can tell all jokes aside that they mean it. These are just regular guys playing music than matters.
Before launching into the more relaxed ‘Mattersville’ they tell us why even though America sucks they’d still rather live there than here in Britain and specifically Manchester which they decided should be renamed, “Womanchester.” El Heffe did score some major points with everyone in the packed out venue after Fat Mike dropped the bombshell that London was actually better by retorting: “Yeah, but you could kick London’s ass in a fight.” The crowd loved every single thing that happened in The Ritz tonight and the atmosphere was electric, people were having an absolute ball, more so than any other gig this reviewer has been too, and there’s something special in seeing that many people just have fun. To top it all off they end with the smarmy brilliance of ‘Theme From A NOFX Album’ and then Eric Melvin cheekily refuses to end the fun by continuously sneaking on stage with his accordion still catering to the audiences whims, eventually a towel is draped over his head and he is ushered off.
The show is over and nobody’s sad about it because we’ve all had an unforgettable time here tonight, outside people are congregating while they assess what to do next. People are selling shirts, CD’s, and fanzines, it’s suddenly very clear that she spirit of DIY punk lives on and it travels with NOFX wherever they go!