Live Review: Alexisonfire - Alexandra Palace, London 01/06/2019
After announcing their split in 2011 and embarking on a fifteen date ‘farewell tour’ in 2012, Alexisonfire have played a handful of shows in the UK, including a special appearance at Reading and Leeds Festival in 2015 and a return to Brixton Academy last year. That all changed earlier this year when they released Familiar Drugs, their first new track in 8 years, alongside a tour featuring just one UK show at the legendary Alexandra Palace. Today, the building filled slowly but surely as the anticipation built for a night of hardcore nostalgia.
As fans drift into and dot themselves around the floor, the sun pouring through the iconic stained glass window makes it feel more like we’re all waiting for the headline act at a festival. Fellow Canadians Chastity do a good job of warming up the crowd with their very own breed of chaos. “Hey you ever play a really huge show and forget to put on deodorant?” asks frontman Brandon. His fear of getting smelly did not hold him back, as he launches himself into the barrier to get up close and personal with the front of the crowd. Chastity’s debut album, Death Cuts, was released last year and showcased the suburban songwriter’s ability to blend genres to create his own style. Tonight’s set is a perfect reflection of this, as he flits between Deftones style drawling vocals and Frank Carter-esque screams. There’s no chance that anyone in the audience is bored by the time they give the stage over for tonight’s main act.
As soon as Alexisonfire stride on stage the energy in the room is electric as we wait and wonder what the set will open with. The winner is Watch Out! opening track, Accidents, and the track is met by a crowd almost as into it as frontman George Pettit. Before the first song is even over, he has hulk-style ripped off his own t-shirt and it doesn’t look like he could possibly be having a better time on that stage. The juxtaposition of George’s coarse, harsh vocals against the dreamy sound of clean vocalist Dallas Greenis what makes Alexisonfire so unique, and in a setting like this it’s impossible to ignore just how special it is. As Pettit bounds around the stage, kicking and punching the air and throwing his arms open to embrace the crowd, Green stays at his mic and grins through his guitar interludes, the two personalities balancing each other out perfectly.
Tonight’s setlist couldn’t possibly have been any better. Playing some tracks for the first time in over a decade, they played a career spanning set that is received with pure joy by every person in the room. Comeback single Familiar Drugs fit seamlessly into the setlist, proving that whatever else the band come out with next is bound to be another instant hit both with fans and as part of their live shows. You don’t realise how distinctive a cymbal hit can be until drummer Jordan Hastings launches into This Could Be Anywhere In The World and every single person in the room throws up their hands.
Working his day job a few days ago, Pettit tells the crowd he caught a glimpse of a darts competition that was taking place at Alexandra Palace. He reminds the crowd that “anything is fucking possible” and as the set drawers to a close, himself and fellow vocalist Dallas Green make it clear just how grateful they are to be back on such an incredible stage with their fans screaming their lyrics back at them. Just as they opened with the album’s opener, Alexisonfire close tonight’s show with Watch Out!’s final track, Happiness By The Kilowatt. Dallas gets his final moment to shine, as his flawless vocals carry the first verse over the minimal instruments and he even manages to sneak in a snipped of Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’. This is a song that captures every single aspect of the band, and it is a perfect and beautiful ending to what has been an incredibly powerful night. All that’s left to wonder now is, what’s next for Alexisonfire?
Words and Photography by Megan Smith