Photos & words Ben Gunzburg
A lot has happened in the 6 years since Alexisonfire last visited Australia. Beards, long hair, a few sporadic singles, more side projects, and finally a new album in 2022. A constant in that time however has been their loyal fanbase. This is the longest we’ve ever had to wait for the band to return, and with the initial Melbourne show selling out and spawning a second show, it’s evident the fans haven’t gone anywhere. Night #1 is upon us and we descend on the Forum Theatre, arguably one Melbourne’s most beloved venues. Let’s do this!
With a cosy lineup of just two bands, Tasmania’s Luca Brasi hit the stage to an already two thirds full venue, a great thing to see. Kicking things off with Dying To Feel Alive, the band rip through 30 minutes of emo and pop punk tinged rock, with a distinct Aussie sound to it. Energy is high throughout the set as the band cut and weave through the more recent half of their discography (3 outta 5 ain’t bad) with Aeroplane, Let It Slip and Anything Neear Conviction being a few highlights.The band makes sure to also show off their latest single from late last year, Party Scene.
A tight set from the whole band, singer Tyler Richardson doesn’t hold back, giving off a great energy and letting the crowd know when it’s their turn to match it with singalongs and “whoa oh oh’s” aplenty. Clearly lots of Luca Brasi fans in the crowd, and as Clothes I Slept In draws the set to a close, I’d say we’re now all perfectly warmed up.
After filing onto stage in a very orderly fashion Alexisonfire quickly flick the switch, launching into Accidents, and the chaos begins. Bassist Chris Steele is a wild beast, pulling the faces of a madman and executing dance moves to match. Frontman George Pettit is ferocious and commanding as he thrashes his way around the stage, his growl could cut through concrete.
Absolutely electric energy, it’s such a pleasure and a treat to witness the triple vocal threat of George and guitarists Dallas Green and Wade MacNeil, shining through especially on Old Crows and Sans Soleil, a clear crowd favourite. Dallas has the voice of an angel and Wade’s trademark rasp add’s an extra sexy dimension. It’s hard to appreciate some of the nuances on the recordings of a track like the latter, but getting to see those vocal harmonies brought to life in front of us and not only hearing but seeing George’s softer range shine, is nothing short of spine tingling.
As the saying goes, “give the drummer some,” and Jordan Hastings deserves a lot of love, an exceptional talent behind the skins, ebbing and flowing and unwavering throughout the entire set. A new and welcome addition is touring member Matt Kelly who brings the sporadic keys sections to life, most notably on Rough Hands and The Northern, both receiving extended intros which are a beautiful touch.
Just as they did with their latest album Otherness, Alexisonfire have really stepped up their live show with an extra level of atmosphere. Banter between songs is kept to a minimum and spread out, opting to bridge songs together with moody sounds. They may not talk much, but George remains animated between songs, mouthing and gesturing at the crowd letting us know he’s having a blast.
An impressive setlist, with an even spread between the latest four albums, we’re thrown a few extra little surprises in the self-titled album’s Adelleda, rogue single Familiar Drugs, and another fan favourite, Dog’s Blood from the EP of the same name. Once again, the band brings the energy and atmosphere to new heights with this track and as if Dallas’ hauntingly beautiful vocals in the bridge don’t already build up the suspense enough, George yelling at the crowd to “fuck this place up!” just as the rest of the band crashes back into full swing, tips us over the edge. What an electric moment!
The electricity continues to flow through as another extended intro, this time from Jordan on the drums, takes us into This Could Be Anywhere In The World. The crowd knows their time is drawing near with George egging us on: “You know it! Wanna hear it!”. The crowd delivers, singing so loudly that Dallas needn’t have even sung his parts, but we’re glad he did anyway. As the final guitars ring out we still want more, and we’re thankfully treated to an encore of Young Cardinals and Happiness By The Kilowatt, bringing an amazing hour and a half long set to a final close in beautiful fashion.
It’s crazy to think I’ve been listening to these guys for nearly 20 years, and they somehow manage to get better and better at every turn, both on and off the stage. A truly next level performance. See you at show #2!
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