Alexisonfire - Academy
Live Review

Alexisonfire – Academy, Manchester

They may be the support act but the masses are baying for Saosin as they take the stage. The California five-piece seem to command nearly as much respect as the headliners with this audience, and though it takes singer Cove a while to get into the vibe as he’s still getting over illness, they take in the crowd’s enthusiasm and throw it right back at them. As Cove told me before the show, their attitude as main support is that “we need to make sure these kids are moving during our set”, and this they do, encouraging the kids to start circle pit after circle pit.

Though Cove cannot live up to previous frontman Anthony Green in charisma, he is more than equal to him in vocal talent, and delivers the recent hit ‘Voices’ with a vivacious excitement that must come from having been a fan of the band before he joined them. As ever, though, it’s impossible to miss Alex Rodriguez, the band’s awe-inspiring drummer, who adds another level to every song and keeps the band from being lumped in with so many other bands like them. Stand out tracks are ‘You’re Not Alone’, which is infused with emotion from the kids, and frontman’s favourite ‘I Never Wanted To’ (“it means the most to me”), but as the set ends with ‘7 years’ its becomes clear that Saosin could be the headliners tonight and not a lot of people would be disappointed. They throw bottles of water out to the audience as they leave the stage. Aww.

Yet it’s Alexisonfire that the audience really wants tonight, and Canada’s second greatest export (after hockey) are clearly ready for a heavy one they as begin with the relatively subdued ‘You Burn First’ then kick into ‘We Are The Sound’ and the classic ‘Pulmonary Archery’, sending their fans into a frenzy. The whole front half of the Academy is jumping, singing along with every word, and George is strutting along and flinging himself around the stage like a banshee.

It’s the calmer and more static Dallas, though, who deserves the most adoration, his intense vocals cutting through the fuss and providing the striking melodies to balance George’s screams. His voice really is phenomenal, and he owns ‘Rough Hands’ and the like, whereas ‘Drunks, Lovers Sinners and Saints’ is the property of George and guitarist/vocalist Wade Macneil.

The year or so since ‘Crisis’ was released has allowed the fans to memorize every word and harmony, resulting in an almost intimidating sound from the sea of followers, which must inflate the egos of those on stage a little more every night. George isn’t afraid to kick back against the few twats in the audience though, and having been spat on by one such idiot, he threatens to bite the offender’s head off and push it down his (or her) throat. He later switches back into a jovial love affair with the crowd, somewhat scarily claiming that he wants to “open mouth kiss every single one of you” and like the Patrick Bateman of the screamo world you don’t know which statement is the serious one. He does have an eerie, enigmatic charm, though, and when he’s not pacing round the stage he resembles a bull ready to charge, so pent up with musical aggression that he might well implode at any point.

That’s the story of the night in fact – the band are so explosive that even in between songs they exude a power that no one can resist, and by the end of their encore they’re completely spent, and so are the fans. Everyone leaves with a post-orgasmic serenity, and you can be sure that, like me, they’ll be back next time around.

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