Alexisonfire / Comeback Kid / Beat Union

Newcastle University on Mon 5th Mar 2007

Tonight is the kind of night you end up watching the crowd as much as you watch the bands. A melee of angered souls backed by testosterone and power-chords makes for an interesting spectacle. They even had a pyramid formation in the middle of the mosh pit. In my day we would have fought it out, man to man.

First support act Beat Union arrived on stage to half-hearted applause from the mob who were probably moving onto some kind of star-jump routine by this point. It almost seemed that music might take a backseat in this company, something that is always an issue for groups who appeal to an under-exercised generation whose only daily activities are cussing and masturbation. Nevertheless, they caught my attention with a tight set and a sound that was comparable to both The Jam and Ordinary Boys only with a beefed up sound system to ensure the crowd would achieve their quota of hearing-loss for the night.

They needn’t have worried though with the next act Comeback Kid. I don’t mean it in a good way either. It is probably best summed up like this:

There are times in music where you severely doubt how a band can look at themselves in a mirror and in their heart of hearts that they aren’t doing it a massive disservice because of the ineptitude of their entire musical composition, which is based on laying down the same grungy chord on top of the same hammered drumbeat and screaming like some delirious spawn of the most devilish creature in all of Christendom about something that no-one can hear and then stopping for breath and then starting a ‘new’ song which sounds exactly like the first and then call it all music and expect some kind of respect for it which for me seems exactly the same as writing a very long phrase without any punctuation and calling it good grammar. You probably didn’t appreciate that sentence and similarly I, along with several hundred zany teenagers, certainly did not appreciate them.

The devil within me thus needed exorcising and I had one last hope. A group of five young men from Canada who named themselves after the first lactating porn star. It’s hardly a fairytale plotline, but the effect it had on me was something that even Hans Christian Anderson would have been proud of, and without a princess in sight.

Having never been a big fan of heavier music, the previous acts were observed in considering the standard of their music in terms of their particular genre of music and not whether I personally liked it. However, Alexisonfire somehow appealed to me with their uplifting vocals and harsh riffs in a way I hadn’t thought possible before.

Perhaps that is their biggest achievement of all; being able to appeal to such a diverse market and it goes some way towards explaining the massive global popularity they currently enjoy. Dallas Green’s beautiful strains are brought up against the harsh screams of George Pettit to provide the variety of sound that is so easy to miss when playing heavy music. As far as rage bands go, they take the hideous, dark carcasses of so many hardcore bands and shine a light of hope and genuine emotion into their blackened souls. That’s not to say they are unfaithful to their heavier roots, only that their sound is an enlargement of this concept.

This sound was something that transferred very well onto the live stage. It was somewhat epic in its depth and rich vivacity, blending unbounded energy with moments of contained profundity.

They command a great stage presence, perhaps because of their dedication to touring which has seen them visit Newcastle no fewer than three times in the last year, no mean feat for a band who live some 3,500 miles away. As a result they are extremely tight in their performance, opening with a seamlessly uplifting version of ‘Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints’ before creating a furore in the suddenly re-awakened crowd by ripping through ‘Boiled Frogs’ and ‘Control’, the latter demonstrating Green’s superb vocal range which was genuinely moving. I believe he is a major reason why Alexisonfire’s work is so brilliant as he brings order to the musical chaos around him which enables a wider range of people to relate and understand the concept of heavy music.

Rough Hands was brought in half way through the gig and it offered a really nice change in tempo to the more frenzied opening and even the young crowd seemed appreciative of the band’s ability to dictate the pace of the performance as they wished.

In saying all this, I feel obliged to find fault with something at a gig. For all my previous positivism, this show was no exception. For all their competence and faultless playing, I felt there was perhaps a slight lack of inventiveness in the way they adapted their songs for a live arena. If you tour all the time you do get very good at what you play, but perhaps it also means that you don’t stray too far from the formula you know. Ok, so I’m nitpicking, but perhaps it is something that could be coupled with their enthusiasm to create an even better experience.

Finishing off, before the encore, with ‘Happiness by the Kilowatt’ they showed that they were happy to air some of their older hits for the benefit of their enthusiastic audience who, in the midst of musical enjoyment, had forgotten their previous acrobatics to give the band their full attention.

With the encore came ‘Get Fighted’ and a brilliant ending brought about by ‘Accidents’, almost degenerating into a full blown sing-along.

You see, Alexisonfire are no ordinary band. They are not only re-defining a genre, they are simultaneously luring more and more people towards the darker side of music. You have been warned...

article by: James Robinson

published: 08/03/2007 23:58


sorry, we currently have no gigs listed for this act.