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This show would have to be the ultimate definition of bittersweet. Much like going to see a dying relative for the last time, only a lot less dramatic – but you know what I mean. For the past 10 years, Alexisonfire have been guiding me and many others like me through all the trials and tribulations of life. Soundtracking entire relationships, as well as entire break-ups, calling them a formative band to my existence is an understatement. But here I was, along with 3000 others, preparing to bid farewell to the band after one last night together.
The band had managed to sell out the entire Hordern Pavilion. The crowds came in thick and fast. Given that there was only one support band, no one wanted to risk rocking up fashionably late and missing something. House Vs. Hurricane was that main support. I remember the first time I caught this band was many years ago when they supported The Devil Wears Prada at Manning Bar (anyone remember that?). Man how the times have changed. Having recently survived lineup changes, international tours and the release of their 2nd full-length album, the post-hardcore outfit is fast maturing into veterans of the scene, and their live performance shows this.
It was a far more lean performance, in a sense that there was minimal f**king around. Their recently released album Crooked Teeth was well represented. Given their set was 30 minutes, the band rocked it hard – another 15 minutes wouldn’t have gone astray though!
After an abnormally brief change-over, the Hordern became absolutely filled to the brim, random police officers standing vigilant for ‘criminal’ activity, and Alexisonfire took the stage. Flooding the room with red, the boys filed out, tattoos everywhere - Dallas Green looked as dapper as ever. After a bit of a build up, the show began with Young Cardinals, a crowd favourite. Brilliant.
Kicking things straight to what would probably be their most popular album Crisis (prepare for some argument on that) they didn’t stop, pushing through a melody that ended in Boiled Frogs. Needless to say the crowd lost their s**t.
“This is a f**king celebration” frontman George Pettit informed the audience, often reminding us before each song, “One last time, Sydney!” It was obvious that we were watching a band who had accepted their fate and were pleased that they had the option to go out while on top, rather than fade into irrelevance.
The setlist was broken up with regular banter between members and the crowd. “Half of these songs were written in my mothers basement…half of the songs were written above a s**tty installation factory,” guitarist Wade MacNiel told the crowd. Nostalgic references were not as common as expected, but as Pettit put it, “we’re celebrating, not just the past but the future”.
Control was one of many tracks that saw the band delve deep into their back catalogue, and You Burn First came with a tale, as the band explained that they wrote that song many years ago, having just toured with Hot Water Music and Planes Mistaken for Stars.
Out of a 2-hour show pieced together with hit after hit, I’ll have to go with This Could Be Anywhere in the World (played during the encore) being the song of the night, that or .44 Caliber Love Letter. During both songs the crowd managed to sing louder than Green. As for best moment all up – it would have to be a toss between Pettit’s explanation of what he saw in the pit:
“I saw these two dudes getting all in eachother’s faces, until I saw that they were just singing the works of Control to each other really intensely.”
Or when Alexis’ roadie got into a bit of a donnybrook with a stage intruder, and despite being kneed in the balls, managed to drop the crasher.
The encore saw the band slow things down. The Northern put Pettit on the organ and Green’s clean vocals front and centre. This was followed by Happiness by the Kilowatt: ‘Was this what we hoped for? It’s not what we hoped for!It’s not!’ So very true.
It almost felt as though they were delaying the inevitable goodbye, but all good things must come to an end. After two hours, Sydney cheered for Alexisonfire for the last time ever; never again will our ears ring in such a way. But THAT, my friends, is how you make an exit.
(Photo by Jamie Gilbert)