Review : Nev Pearce and Christian Stanger
Photos : Dan Maynard
It’s been a little while since Canadian post-hardcore legends Alexisonfire graced us with their presence. Last time we saw them was back in 2017 for their first big tour since momentarily disbanding in 2012.
I’ve been a fan of the band since my wife was given ‘Watch Out’ on CD for her birthday from a friend (who accompanied me tonight) and have seen them almost every time they have played in Brisbane. They have never disappointed and I’ve looked forward to seeing them again especially since the release of their first record in 13 years, 2022’s ‘Otherness’, which showed a more musically mature direction, but still a brilliant Alexisonfire album that stands tall amongst its predecessors.
The Fortitude Valley Music Hall is incredible. I’d seen pictures, but walking into the place is quite an experience and you can tell that no expense was spared. The chandeliers on the ceiling make everything feel a little fancy and the stage being high as hell, gives us hobbits at the back a clear view of bands performing.
Floods of punters are streaming in as Luca Brasi take the stage and get right into a set packed full of their trademark indie punk anthems. If most of the crowd was unfamiliar with their work, it was not a problem for the enthusiastic bunch down the front. Arms flailing and fists pumping the air, the energetic foursome got the room going with nostalgic flavours somewhere between Bodyjar and Dashboard Confessional punctuated by aggressive passages more reminiscent of tonight’s headliners.
Frontman and bass guitarist, Tyler Richardson greeted the crowd several times with “how the fuck are yas” and implored them to stick around for “whoever is on next” as they are apparently pretty good. This statement was not inaccurate.
As the lights go down, Alexisonfire hit the stage with unmatched fury and energy, launching into Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints, sending the pit into a frenzy but the arrival of the follow-up, Boiled Frogs really got the crowd responding. The energy at this point was ramping up and the chaos and adrenaline was flowing freely, giving the fans exactly what they had been waiting so long for.
Sweet Dreams of Otherness is next, bringing us forward in time to the latest album. Before taking things right back to the beginning with Pulmonary Archery from 2002’s self-titled album which shows that the AOF are here to honour the past, present and everything in between to keep fans of all eras satisfied.
With his majestic mane of long flowing hair, frontman George Pettit looks almost unrecognisable and could be mistaken for a younger new member if it wasn’t for his unmistakable vocals, politely articulating his stance on equality and telling anyone who disagrees to hand in their shirt on the way out. Backing this up with Accept Crime, which firmly addresses the issue and receives a massive response from everyone in the venue who feel the same way.
This is followed-up by the emotionally driven Rough Hands, one of my personal favourites that hits extremely hard when heard in a live setting and a highlight of their set.
While Dallas Green receives a lot of credit for his incredible melodic vocal abilities, the thing that truly makes this band so special is that each member is a powerhouse in their own right. From Wade MacNeil’s husky growl and shredding, Chris Steele’s infectious onstage persona and killer tone to Jordan “Ratbeard” Hastings thunderous impeccable timing and George’s hardcore influenced scream, it’s all these elements combined that make the band what they truly are and what many strive for.
From the psycadelic jam during the outro of The Northern, the hard-hitting Dogs Blood and the anthemic Young Cardinals, Alexisonfire keep the night rolling with fan favourites before leaving the stage for their big epic encore, taking us all back to where it all began with their breakthrough track Accidents, and arguably their best song, Happiness by the Kilowatt, which sees Wade and George swap their guitar and microphone midway for an improv version of Neil Young’s Hey Hey My My blended into the song before swinging it back around for the big ending. Alexisonfire are one of the greatest live bands on the planet and it was great to finally have them back down under.
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS LUCA BRASI
Presented by Chugg Entertainment and Frontier Touring
MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY
Enmore Theatre | Sydney, NSW
FRIDAY 24 FEBRUARY
Forum Melbourne | Melbourne, VIC
MONDAY 27 FEBRUARY
Hindley Street Music Hall | Adelaide, SA