Photos + Review: Social Distortion @ Observatory North Park (San Diego, CA)

Social Distortion (Fullerton, CA)
January 3rd, 2023
Observatory North Park in San Diego, CA

Yesterday is history And tomorrow’s a mystery But baby right now, It’s just about Social Distortion.

Well, 2023 started off pretty great for me with an amazing first show! I had been waiting to see Social Distortion since November. Their show had been postponed then due to a band member’s illness. The show was worth all of the wait and certainly set the bar pretty high for other bands to follow.

Veterans in their craft, Social Distortion delivered a fully contagious 90 minute set worthy of their legendary status. It might have been cold outside but Mike Ness and company definitely brought on the heat with a fiery performance that kept the crowd stomping the entire night.

This residency at the Observatory served as proof that while veterans on the scene, they still hold on to their SoCal “Throne of Cool.” They had not one or two, but a total of six fully sold out nights, with faithful fans many of whom purchased tickets for each night and brought the younger generation with them. The only thing cooler than witnessing the generational crossovers of moshing fans just might be Ness’ Bugsy Siegel shirt.

As far as the setlist goes, I don’t think I could have asked for more. A perfect representation of their amazing four decade long career. They opened with a classic, “So far Away” from their 1990 self-titled album – a song which was received with full cheers from the packed room. Then they moved up a decade or so to one of my favorite tunes, “Reach for the Sky” off their 2004 release Sex, Love & Rock ‘N’ Roll.

“Mommy’s Little Monster was another crowd pleaser, with many dedicating the tune to the little ones they brought with them. I loved their cover of Wicked Games-such an iconic song no matter what style it is played in. This was a newly heard cover for me so I was happily surprised.

“When The Angels Sing” was another amazing moment where everyone sang along to the entire song, creating this very intimate moment that just added extra magic to an already great night. They closed the set on another high note with “Don’t Drag Me Down” only to come back with even higher notes with, “Born To Kill,” “Ball And Chain,” and of course “Ring Of Fire.”

At the beginning of the show I might have been a little surprised to hear how many people bought tickets for each of the nights, but by the end of the evening, I left the venue with a full understanding of why each of them did so. 90 minutes were great but 540 minutes would be just that much better!


So Far Away
Reach for the Sky
Bye Bye Baby
I Wasn’t Born to Follow
Mommy’s Little Monster
Wicked Game (Chris Isaak cover)
Machine Gun Blues
Over You
When the Angels Sing
Gotta Know the Rules
Ghost Town Blues
Don’t Drag Me Down
Born to Kill
Ball and Chain
Ring of Fire (Merle Kilgore cover)

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