LIVE: Alexisonfire – Academy 1, Manchester (18/10/2009)

Date: October 18th, 2009
Venue: Academy 1, Manchester
Support: The Ghost Of A Thousand, Four Year Strong, Anti-Flag


Hitting the UK in 2009, the Eastpak Antidote tour imports three international bands and one homegrown UK band in a 4 bash flurry of pop-punk, post-hardcore, and hard rock. Not quite on the scale of the Taste Of Chaos or Give It A Name tours, this tour still hosts a group of bands who may only be seen playing a show together at large musical festivals – so this oppurtunity shouldn’t be squandered or under appreciated.

Openers The Ghost Of A Thousand (****) are the only UK front on this tour, and being on home soil definitely brings the band a confidence and crowd appreciation to help set the bars up for their set. Newer songs like ‘Bright Lights’ and ‘Knees, Toes, Teeth’ are delivered with an essence of aggression and furiosity that would make you think they would deserve the headlining slot as opposed to the opening. Sporting an all over white outfit, vocalist Tom Lacey is constantly whipping up the crowd to get jumping and moving about, and even jumps in there himself and gets lost from sight for a good few minutes.

Things are taken a little more melodic and mainstream for the fairly hairy pop-punkers Four Year Strong (***) who though not quite as ‘hands-on’ as the previous homegrown group, are still fairly active once they hit the stage. ‘Catastrophe’ and ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Hell’ along with pretty much most of their set sees every lyric sung right back to them as if the crowd had been sitting at home and repeating their albums over and over ’til perfection. Their heavy yet melodic and easy-on-the-ears sound brings a collaboration of moshing, dancing, jumping and generally having a good time to high levels.

It’s a shame that all that energy was built-up to be shot back down again by the political and whiney borefest that is Anti-Flag (**). To be fair to them they do put the effort in to trying to make a decent and exciting show, but when all efforts fail it’s not reassuring for the group or enjoyable for those watching. Speeches are all well and good, but when you drag them on for 5 minutes or more midway through a song then maybe you should enter a political party and leave a band. What’s more, their cover of The Clash‘s classic ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ is nothing but an incentive to yawn, and arguably makes a mockery of what that song was by its originaters.

Thankfully Alexisonfire (****) have what it takes to recover the shambles left behind by Anti-Flag. Upping the ante dramatically, Dallas Green and co. reel off both the old and new with finese and style. ‘Born And Raised’ and ‘Young Cardinals’ sound just as polished and worked out as ‘No Transistory’ or ‘Accept Crime’ to both the band and the fans, who are singing almost every word right back to the canadian 5-piece. This kind of reaction is also a clear indication that Alexisonfire don’t visit British shores often enough, and the insane crowd is a showcase of the appreciation from this veteran band. Frontman George Pettit‘s barks slides beatifully along Dallas Green‘s soaring melodics, and help to show a band possibly at the prime of their career, and despite being a rarity within the UK are an act to be seen at least once.

Written by Zach Redrup