LIVE: Alexisonfire @ Alexandra Palace, London

By Renette van der Merwe

The contrast between the refined Victorian embellishments of Alexandra Palace’s entrance hall and the rough edges of its populace tonight is beautiful. There are fishnets and Docs, ripped jeans and tattoos, bobbing heads in all colours imaginable, and band shirts – a sea of them, many representing headline act Alexisonfire. Yet, everything else – from Circa Survive to Every Time I Die and a BST Eric Clapton shirt – is also on show, which makes the lyrics to ‘Old Crows’ all the more ironic when vocalist Dallas Green later sings “now, we are not the kids we used to be”, because at heart, we really are.

For many music lovers attending, Alexisonfire’s self-titled debut would’ve been the linchpin that shaped their music collection in the years that followed – and if not that album, then certainly ‘Watch Out!’ or ‘Crisis’, so it’s not surprising when Ally Pally’s Great Hall fills up quickly. But, don’t mistake Alexisonfire for a nostalgia act; as they continue to release music, ‘Complicit’ being the latest single, they continue to shape post-hardcore and prove years of experience have solidified both bond and musical proficiency.

‘Familiar Drugs’, which was their first new song in a decade when it was released earlier this year, made an appearance on the setlist alongside ‘Pulmonary Archery’, ‘Waterwings (and Other Poolside Fashion Faux Pas)’, and ‘Side Walk When She Walks’. Reaction to ‘Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints’, ‘We Are the Sound’ and ‘This Could Be Anywhere in World’ confirm the true scale of impact 2006’s ‘Crisis’ had on fans, as the crowd sing along to every word at a deafening volume.

Other clear fan favourites included ‘.44 Caliber Love Letter’, as well as singalongs ‘Young Cardinals’ and ‘Happiness by the Kilowatt’, but it was the second encore entry that was the most surprising, as Alexis dug out the first song they ever wrote and rarely perform live – ‘Little Girls Pointing and Laughing’.

Additions like ‘Rough Hands’ showcase Alexisonfire’s essence with crystal clear clarity; the precision of the drums and crescendoing cymbal work that ‘Crisis’ became known for, the powerful guitar riffs and, most importantly, the layered vocals that are especially apparent in the closing minute when George Pettit’s growl marries up with Green’s soulful, melodic tenor and Wade MacNeil’s husky voice.

Watching Alexisonfire in action is witnessing the product of eighteen years of grind, honing their craft to enhance the talent that each of the five members already possessed, to become a well-oiled machine. The true beauty, however, lies in the heart that goes into each lyric, each riff, each beat, the radiating love of each live performance and the reciprocation of it by a community that formed out of admiration and adoration for a band who broke boxes because they felt like they didn’t belong in any of them. There’s intimacy in being misplaced and that’s why, deep down, we’ll always be the kids we used to be.