Before the growing juggernaut that is Unify Gathering announced Ontario’s Alexisonfire as their 2017 headliners, many fans thought they’d never see the five-piece live ever again. This was typified when vocalist George Pettit exclaimed ‘You didn’t think this was possible did you?’
Despite not being sold out, it was clear as punters made their way into the venue that these fans were the real deal. The percentage of those in attendance wearing Alexisonfire t-shirts from previous tours was unusually high. Joined at the bottom end of the bill by fellow Canadians The Dirty Nil and Aussie acts Behind Crimson Eyes and The Getaway Plan. Just like the headliners, both local acts have been on the scene for a long, long time.
After the supports had their time in the sun, the crowd became restless, reacting strongly anytime the house lights even appeared to darken or an unfamiliar roadie strode across the stage. The anticipation was palpable and when Alexisonfire arrived onstage the gathered crowd made their presence felt. The band didn’t bother wasting any time. Second song in This Could Be Anywhere in the World brought about the first of many singalongs for the evening. A buoyant Festival Hall echoing Dallas Green’s ‘Because this city, this city is haunted, by ghosts from broken homes’ is just as spine-tingling of an experience as the lyrics suggest it ought to be.
We Are the Sound was a particular highlight. It particularly showcased what was true all night, that Pettit’s screaming is so well delivered live that the lyrics are even easier to distinguish in concert than in recordings; no mean feat at all. Slightly subdued for a lot of the set, Boiled Frogs brought the crowd alive. Pushing circles, moshing and crowd surfing ensued and the gig really got going. Crisis was leaned upon heavily on the set list and the crowd had no qualms whatsoever. Material from Old Crows/Young Cardinals was also prominent and well-received. First-album fan-favourite .44 Caliber Love Letter was delivered with precision and fervour, and the crowd returned the love.
A generous encore closed out a 90-minute set that demonstrated why Alexisonfire are still one of the best live hardcore bands anywhere in the world. They certainly seem to love their Australian fans, and they duly rewarded them with a passionate set.
Words by Alexander Crowden
Image by Ian Laidlaw
Highlight: The numerous singalongs strewn throughout the set.
Lowlight: Supports starting at 6:45pm on a weeknight, too early for working people.
Crowd favourite: This Could Be Anywhere in the World