Tonight I was taken back to my formative years of my deep love of the post-hardcore genre.
Tonight was also a night I thought would never ever happen after I said my tearful farewell to ALEXISONFIRE at the very same venue five years ago on their farewell tour. How times change.
Kicking of tonight's early start was Canadian three piece pop(ish) punk/Alt Rock act THE DIRTY NIL.
The early time slot was an absolute killer for these guys, playing to a disappointingly small crowd. Some bands may have been disheartened by this, but not The Dirty Nil. They delivered a 10/10 performance that would certainly have gained them a few more fans. Their energy was infectious. And the best part was they looked like they were having the time of their lives up there. Can't wait to catch them again.
By the time BEHIND CRIMSON EYES were due to arrive on stage, the crowd had swelled in numbers, although not by much. It was still relatively early on a Thursday night and traffic around the venue was particularly bad.
Again, the small crowd did not deter these Melbourne locals one iota.
Bringing their "A" game, the twin vocal attack of Josh Stuart and Aaron Schultz was perfectly balanced between the heavy and clean vocals and was the catalyst of their high energy performance.
Finally, around halfway through the set, the crowd came alive after being quite stagnant early on.
Highlighted by "Shinedown", the short, but sweet set was received well by all.
If tonight was about nostalgia, the next band was another of my "go to" bands of the mid to late 2000's. And after a breakup/hiatus back around 2010, THE GETAWAY PLAN was another band whom I thought I would never get to see live again. Two albums later, they are still going strong, spreading their unique blend of ambient alt rock grooves to the masses.
The one thing that really drew me to them all those years ago was the powerful voice of front man Matthew Wright. He still has it, even more so now than when I first fell in love with them.
Every member put 100% into their craft tonight and it payed great dividends as the now near capacity crowd fed off their onstage brilliance. Their vocal approval got louder and louder after every song. A great way to set up for the headline act.
By the time the crew had made their final adjustments, the anticipation in the room tonight was as electric as I have ever felt. And I mean felt. You could actually feel the anticipation in the air, in the floor, in the person standing next to you. It felt like nothing I had felt at a concert before. It was a feeling that is indescribable. Everything just felt so alive...and calm for some reason.
But as soon as those lights went off and the Hordern was filled with nothing but black, that calmness rapidly disappeared.
Here, right in front our very eyes, was the return of the mighty ALEXISONFIRE.
George Pettit (Vocals), Dallas Green (Guitar/Clean Vocals), Chris Steele (Bass), Wade McNeil (Guitar/Backing Vocals) and Jordan Hastings (Drums).....back on the same stage again.
I couldn't believe it.
Pulling absolutely no punches from the get go, they ripped straight into "Drunks, Lovers, Sinners And Saints", which flowed perfectly into "This Could Be Anywhere in the World" and "Old Crows". This was arguably the tightest opening to a Hordern gig that I have had the pleasure of witnessing and was over in what seemed to be a breath.
The Canadian five piece had the entire crowd at their mercy.
And the crowd loved that fact.
"We Are The Sound" was greeted by a 3500 strong chorus of fans screaming the words right back to George and Dallas. Goosebump material. And the drumming by Jordan was perfection. He has to be one of the most under rated drummers in the world. He is a percussion wizard!
By the time "Water Wings" appeared on the set list (which was maybe song six?), security had already earned their paychecks as a plethora of crowd surfers were keeping the twelve-strong security busy. I counted 35 surfers in that song alone. And that was a mellow song.
Stopping to check on the crowd after a couple of massive circle pits, George stopped the set to make sure one particular fan was okay before proceeding with the show. As the fan gave a thumbs up, Wade chimed in "Lucky you're okay dude, cause the next one is a real motherfucker!". That song in question : "Crisis"
The endless energy of Chris Steele is mind blowing. The dude never stops. Ever. He is like a tornado.
Dallas Green, the multi-talented freak of a musician was absolutely on point all night. He has a massive following in Australia (as do all of the band members), and I am pretty sure most of his Sydney fan base was in attendance tonight.
Inevitably, the end of the set was almost upon us. Wade greeted the crowd with a little speech in which he called Australia the "Bizarro version of Canada" as we are sarcastic like the Canadians, but with much nicer weather. This truly is their second home.
Closing the night with "Accidents" and "Happiness By The Kilowat", Alexisonfire left with a bang. How George still had the energy to constantly tear his shirts in half (yes shirts - plural. I counted nine in total that he tore down the chest and flung into the crowd) is beyond me.
Finishing the night by bending the mic stand into a "Z" pattern over his back, George looked spent. As did the rest of the band. They deserved a well earned rest after tonight's performance. It was one for the ages.
The chemistry between all members of the band was my highlight of the night.
Sure, they played a set list worthy of a place in the hall of fame and never missed a note all night.
But to see these guys up there, having fun together again was something that made my eyeballs well up with a certain liquid on more than one occasion.
And I will guarantee that I was not the only one.
Words by Matt Bartolo
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THE GETAWAY PLAN
BEHIND CRIMSON EYES
THE DIRTY NIL