Live Review: Alexisonfire, The Getaway Plan, Behind Crimson Eyes, The Dirty Nil

23 January 2017 | 11:24 am | Benny Doyle

"When a hiatus ends for one of your favourite bands, it is absolutely fucking awesome."

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A hiatus. It's a more open and flexible term than break-up, split or even disbanding. 

These days, when a lot of established and beloved bands say they're breaking up, they're really just going on hiatus. A hiatus doesn't sell tickets, though. It does, however, end. And when a hiatus ends for one of your favourite bands, it is absolutely fucking awesome.

It's a shame so few people have taken the opportunity to arrive early and get around The Dirty Nil. The trio, from Dundas, Ontario, serve up some serious kick, with Fuckin' Up Young and Friends In The Sky — complete with obligatory guitar shred from the front speaker stack — both worth their weight in rock. As far as opening acts go, this is about as solid as it gets.

Melbourne's Behind Crimson Eyes are more technical and heavy than memory serves. Frontman Josh Stuart can't hit those higher notes any more (see: Shakedown), but this is about the only downer in an otherwise fun and energetic set. The Getaway Plan, meanwhile, make for a weird main support. The tempo of the music is measured, the band's sound subdued. And though the delivery is flawless, no one in the crowd tonight came for polish. It's just a wrong-place-wrong-time thing.

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We take a wide berth down the hill to grab a prize position on the exclusive concrete dancefloor just in time for Alexisonfire to blast back into our lives. There's room to move, and the Canadian quintet give us more than enough reason to groove from the get-go with the Crisis-opening one-two punch of Drunks, Lovers, Sinners And Saints and This Could Be Anywhere In The World. The band is tight, the players frantic and the batshit light show going on at the back is convulsion-worthy.

The pit is jumping as one when the bouncy chorus of Old Crows greets us, while we all raise our arms with palms open when guitarist and clean vocalist Dallas Green proclaims, "We Are The Sound". With Green and fellow axeman/vocalist Wade MacNeil to the left and right of stage respectively, the centre area is kept relatively clear for the group's two resident maniacs: screamer George Pettit and bassist Chris Steele. They jerk about in unpredictable bursts — throwing their fists in the air one second, spinning on their heels the next. Their energy feeds into ours, and goes great lengths to heighten the overall feeling of tracks like Boiled Frogs, Mailbox Arson and Accept Crime.

As we enter the home stretch, The Northern brings a new type of heavy to the set — all brooding with dark overtones. It gives us a brief moment to catch our breath, before Pulmonary Archery and Accidents take the night to a whole other level. It's incredible what a few loud, emotive "whoa whoa whoa"s can do for the soul, and when they're being shared en masse with thousands, it's the type of euphoria deserving of a gig like this.