Alexisonfire have been one of my favourite ‘screamo’ (?) bands for a very long time. Probably the first or second band (after The Used, of course) that really got me into this corner of the musical world. I have loved everything they have done since ‘Watch Out’ was released, and I have extremely fond memories of ‘Crisis’. Tonight’s gig was the unofficial ‘comeback’ tour for Alexisonfire, having reunited after a few years off to pursue other projects. There was a perfect sense of nostalgia in every note that they played, but unfortunately, that is where it ended for me.
A late entry into the venue meant that I missed the opening two bands, The Dirty Nil, and Behind Crimson Eyes. I don’t know any music from either, but I do remember BCE being around back in the day doing support acts and small festivals with big American bands. Seeing as though this type of music isn’t exactly my go-to anymore, I wasn’t overly concerned about missing these two bands.
We arrived in time to catch the majority of Melbourne lads The Getaway Plan do their thing. I had seen these guys open for The Used a few years back and remember being suitably impressed. Tonight, I felt they were un-energetic, lacklustre and a little bit boring. The crowd was not into it, and the song selection (admittedly, I don’t know much of their catalogue) was poor. Most were straight forward pop rock, and nothing to really pump up the crowd for the main act. By the time their hit single ‘Where The City Meets The Sea’ was played, I had lost interest. Closing with a completely unusual Thrice rip-off track, The Getaway Plan left me feeling disappointed, and wondering what had changed since the last time I saw them.
The crowd started to roll in quite late, just as the headliners were due to appear. Looking around, it was quite humorous to see that the median age had risen from 20 to 30 since the last time I had seen them. Alexisonfire certainly hold a special place in grown up emo hearts, casting their minds back to over decade ago when they were in their prime. The crowd were fatter, balder and a lot less drunk than last time, but you could smell the anticipation in the air. Completely unsurprising that when we made our way to the left side of the arena, it was twice as full as the right side. The smart crowd had positioned themselves perfectly to catch a glimpse of singer/guitarist Dallas Green, who had skyrocketed up indie hearts with City and Colour.
Finally at 9.30pm, the boys hit the stage. The crowd is insane, feedback ringing through the speakers as the 5 Canadian troubadours stood silently, preparing, letting the anticipation grow to unwavering heights, teasing what was to come. After a lifetime, the band launches full assault into ‘Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints’. It’s a brutal, unrelenting and energetic opening. All 5 members are completely on their game tonight. Without skipping a beat they continue into ‘This Could Be Anywhere In The World’ and all attendees are in full voice as they sing with their hero Dallas.
So far, I am enjoying tonight. Two of their better tracks have been handled with an optimism and ferociousness that I hadn’t expected. ‘Old Crows’ is next, and this is where it starts to unwind for me. I couldn’t help but be amused at the previously mentioned old boys crowd all screaming ‘we are not the kids we used to be/stop wishing for yesterday’. From then on, I couldn’t shake the feeling that whilst I loved the band, and their songs, it just wasn’t hitting the mark for me anymore.
Throughout the night, they barely stop to talk at all, apart from singer/guitarist Wade MacNeill doing the traditional ‘Australia is our second home’ speech we hear from most artists. The remark of the night goes to Dallas Green who quips ‘It’s okay to admit that you’re getting older – we are!’. Couldn’t be more true tonight. Whilst the band are obviously enjoying it and the crowd are responding, I think everyone knew tonight was just a callback to a different time.
The setlist was extremely ‘Crisis’ heavy, and while it is a fantastic album, the band should have known that the majority of the crowd came to see Alexisonfire for the songs that they love most. We hadn’t heard new material in 8 years, and they’ve been on hiatus for almost 5. Apart from closing tracks just two songs, they left their most popular and undoubtedly best record ‘Watch Out’ completely out of tonights proceedings, and that irked me. It is the record that put them on the map, and to turn their back on it whilst on a comeback tour seemed like an odd decision. Choosing to play first album tracks ‘Pulmonary Archery’ and ‘Waterwings’ was a nice change, but they were almost lost in the setlist. The bad setlist choices continued when the boys decided to completely butcher one of my favourite ‘Crisis’ tracks in ‘Rough Hands’, a song that I dearly love which did not translate well live at all.
Disappointments aside, I was happy I got to see the boys one final time. The sense of nostalgia I had all night was worth coming for, and the band played an upbeat and energetic set. Personal favourites ‘Boiled Frogs’, ‘.44 Caliber Love Letter’ and ‘Accidents’ were a joy to hear live again. Closing with their regular set finishing ‘Happiness By The Kilowatt’, and lead singer George Pettit’s shirt now officially torn off and dadbod in full swing, Alexisonfire ended a night of mixed emotions in a 8 minute sing-a-long frenzy.
Alexisonfire @ Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park. Thursday, January 19th 2017.
- Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints
- This Could Be Anywhere In The World
- Old Crows
- We Are The Sound
- Waterwings (And Other Poolside Fashion Faux Pas)
- Boiled Frogs
- Rough Hands
- Mailbox Arson
- .44 Caliber Love Letter
- Dog’s Blood
- Accept Crime
- Young Cardinals
- The Northern
- Pulmonary Archery
- Happiness By The Kilowatt