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Sarah Tomlinson

Social Distortion: Forever Young

You can teach a dirty old dog new tricks, but he’ll still be adirty old dog, and thankfully, Social Distortion embodied this maxim attheir sold-out House of Blues show in Anaheim last night (Dec. 11).Mike Ness and Co. delivered new takes on old favorites, proving thatafter 30 years in the SoCal punk scene, the band’s raw ferocity andshredded hardcore heart remains at the core of their guitar-soakedbattle cries. But the tattooed-covered Ness, with his guitar slung lowand legs spread wide, revealed a softer side, too, throwing red rosesto the crowd at the show’s start.

From there, the band’sdialed down version of “Story of My Life,” featuring acoustic guitars,upright bass, and accordion, spurred the adoring middle-aged fans,rockabilly couples, and young punks in the first of the night’s manysing-alongs. A mosh pit erupted during iconic punk classic “Mommy’sLittle Monster,” while new tune, the tender “Highway 101,” found Nessstrutting across the stage, wringing sweat-drenched solos out of hisGibson Gold Top Deluxe guitar. For their encore, the band opened”Prison Bound” with a bluesy organ lick before kicking it up into agritty rocker, and then closed the night with their beloved cover ofJohnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” The circle pit raged, the crowd sangloud, and the band showed they’ve still got plenty of fire toburn.