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Live Review: Unwritten Law

23 February 2018 | 5:40 pm | Darren M. Leach

"Russo clearly still has love from the ladies and a bra was thrown up on stage, landing perfectly on the mic stand with the crowd bursting in laughter and then cheering loudly."

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SoCal pop-punk kings, Unwritten Law, return to Australia on their umpteenth tour of this punk-loving country to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their self-titled album (or The Black Album as their fans call it). While there is only one original member left, vocalist Scott Russo, the rest of band played each lick and beat with so much passion that's you'd swear they played on the original 1998 album. Tonight, they played the album in its entirety from start to finish.

Kicking off with album opener Harmonic, the band, minus Russo, jammed the opening part of the song while they waited for their leader. After about a minute, Russo casually joined them before bursting into the opening line, "Well I'll see you around," along with most of the crowd who shouted it back at him. This band and the pop-punk genre might not be as big as they were in the late '90s/early '00s, but this crowd sang their lungs out like it was 1998! After some minor sound desk difficulties, they launched into Teenage Suicide.

As the five-piece moved through the album we realised just how strong the beginning of it is. By the time they hit tracks five and six - the white-hot hit Cailin and Russo's self-proclaimed favourite Lonesome - we understand why this album deserves a 20th anniversary celebration since it's aged so well.

Before they kicked into Before I Go, they played some audio of a friend who sadly passed away 18 month prior. It's one of the few slower songs on the album, showing off the band's songwriting. They finished up the first 45-minute, album-in-full set with Russo exiting stage right, but with the rest of the band continuing to play.

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Then Russo returned to the stage swiftly for a few more tracks from their solid catalogue and this time he had a guitar strapped on. It wasn't all punk rock, an acoustic guitar appeared for two tracks - I Like The Way and Welcome To Oblivion - since the band released their Acoustic album in 2016. The remaining songs were mostly drawn from the band's hugely successful Elva album (2002), including Rescue Me, Seein' Red and Up All Night.

Russo clearly still has love from the ladies and a bra was thrown up on stage, landing perfectly on the mic stand with the crowd bursting in laughter and then cheering loudly. The band finished with a rousing cover of Grinspoon's More Than You Are. Phil Jamieson is a mate of theirs and famously appears on the band's Elva album.

Russo was in fine form tonight, engaging and reminiscing with the crowd. He even threw out some local knowledge, referring to this town as "Radelaide" much to the packed house's delight. Punk rock is not dead!