Gig Review: Eastpak Antidote Tour 2009

Eastpak Antidote Tour 2009
Alexisonfire, Anti-Flag, Four Year Strong, The Ghost Of A Thousand
02 Academy, Glasgow, 16.10.09.

It’s a tall order for any band to open a four-band show at a venue as vast as Glasgow’s 02 Academy, appearing onstage when the doors have been open for no more than 10 minutes. The odds would especially be stacked against any rock ‘n’ roll-infused hardcore band in this position, but even this didn’t stop The Ghost of a Thousand from putting in a typically stunning performance. Arguably the best live band in the UK today, Tom Lacey and co remained unfazed by the Academy’s dodgy acoustics and tore their way through a devastatingly brilliant set, which showcased much of recent album New Hopes, New Demonstrations. Bright Lights and Canyons of Static were highlights, as well as the climactic Black Art Number One, vocalist Lacey frenetically charging his way through the crowd during the latter, but it’s not really about individual tracks tonight. It’s about the overall extent to which this performance was such a triumph – TGOAT somehow managed to make a large-scale concert seem like an intimate hardcore gig, and bands with an ability to generate such an intense atmosphere within any surroundings are, quite simply, one of the reasons why we love live music.

Four Year Strong were a late addition to the tour after the unfortunate withdrawal of The Fall of Troy, and it’s safe to say that the Massachussetts five-piece’s brand of pop-punk isn’t for everyone. However, even before the band take to the stage, it’s glaringly clear that their loyal Scottish fans have come out in force, and by the time their set is in full swing, there is no question that these devoted fans are loving every minute of it. Perhaps a certain degree of selective hearing comes with this level of hero worship, however, as the die-hards seem to be unaware of the technical errors made throughout the performance which, for a band of FYS’s supposed calibre, are somewhat alarming. The keyboard player spends most of his time in the crowd rather than standing behind his instrument, and the Slayer homage is perhaps ill-advised. A shaky display all-round.

Anti-Flag don’t exactly improve matters; in fact, it’s quite difficult to figure out exactly why the Pennsylvanian punks were ever enlisted for this tour. To the band’s credit, they are perfectly competent at what they do (which is more than can be said for their predecessor), but the problem is that what they do is an increasingly stale, dated style of skate punk. Their simplistic melodies and blunt lyrics are completely out of place, and while the sentiments of frontman Justin Sane’s anti-racism and anti-homophobia preaching are echoed, it is not met with as emphatic a response as he would have hoped. The cover of Should I Stay Or Should I Go is feeble, and restlessness among the crowd continues to increase in anticipation of the appearance of tonight’s headliners.

When the Canadian post-hardcore champions eventually do take to the stage, however, it’s apparent within an instant that the wait was worth every second. Nothing stands in the way of Alexisonfire tonight; frontman George Pettit cuts a Messianic figure as he bursts into view, and by the time the chorus to opener Heading for the Sun comes around, not one body under this roof remains still. It’s an ingeniously constructed setlist, including plenty of material from latest album Old Crows/Young Cardinals, but there are tracks from all four records that ensure old and new fans alike are more than satisfied.

Pettit’s ability to galvanise the masses that stand before him makes Young Cardinals a moment to savour, while guitarist Dallas Green, nothing short of an icon if you ask the thousands in attendance tonight, never fails to stun with his formidable, soulful vocals, the blistering We Are the Sound and the beautiful Rough Hands being the most obvious examples of this. Guitarist Wade McNeil also contributes his classic-rock-esque tones to the surprisingly triumphant Accept Crime and fan favourite Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints. Classic tracks Accidents and This Could Be Anywhere in the World are truly special moments, not to mention the victorious encore of Old Crows and the incredible Happiness by the Kilowatt, by which it’s impossible not to be moved. It’s a fitting end to what’s been a performance of joy, triumph, and seriously good songs from start to finish. Alexisonfire have absolutely conquered Glasgow, and only a fool would pass up the opportunity to catch them when they next roll into town.

     

About JJPorter

JJ is a 20-year-old student hailing from Scotland, who lives and breathes music. His favourite genres include a variety of styles of metal, as well as hardcore, punk, and just about everything in between. Contact JJPorter on Twitter or via Email.

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