Tonight is a night for celebration; the start of a bitter sweet celebration of a band who for the last decade have captured the hearts, souls, and minds of an entire generation. This generation are here at the legendary Brixton Academy to bid farewell to their beloved five piece inspiration that are now leaving them with a legacy that shall be passed down for decades to come, putting themselves in the hall of all the great musicians.
It makes perfect sense that out of all the UK bands to support Alexisonfire on their two last ever UK shows, that The Ghost of a Thousand rise for three days out of their recent grave to give their good friends the best send-off imaginable.
Exploding onto the stage with the neck wrenching ‘Left for Dead’, the Brighton hardcore quintet clearly aren’t zombified in their brief resurrected state; it’s as if they had never split up in the first place. Although it takes a while for things to truly bubble up at the front, the band take the crowd by the ears and shake them violently like a stuffed animal. Encouraging a circle pit of face snapping proportions during ‘Up to You’ and more colliding chaos amongst the loyal pit dwellers during ‘Canyons of Static’ are just a few examples of the band triumphantly succeeding in cooking up the hype so it is served right on time and has zero trace of salmonella poisoning. Ecstatic frontman Tom Lacey feels most at home when he becomes engulfed within the crowd and all you can hear are his pissed off drowning screams and yells. Finishing the set with ‘Bored of Math’ The Ghost of a Thousand leave a second to last imprint on the world proving themselves to be the understated kings of UK hardcore punk. (4/5)
As the lights dim down, a bitter sweet worst fear now grasps hold of all those attending; from this moment until the clock strikes 11, this will be the final time that all eyes will see Canadian post hardcore group Alexisonfire play live. Regardless, as soon as the first doom laden note of ‘Crisis’ takes flight, you realise that this is a night that will be etched in the CPU of your memory bank till the day you cease to breathe.
The band unleash hit after hit which is consumed and digested by the hearts of their fans, which literally spark a new wildfire for each and every song. Hearing ‘44. Calibre Love Letter’ and ‘Pulmonary Archery’ causes immediate waves of nostalgia as these songs haven’t been played for a very long time. Yet the whole list itself is a photo album of pleasure; ‘We Are the Sound’, ‘Boiled Frogs’, ‘Accidents’, ‘Get Fighted’, ‘Midnight Regulations’, etc. are all played with such passion and enthusiasm from the Canadian quintet that you seriously question the idea and the absurdity of why they would ever want to close the book and finish the story. The individual stage personas of the band all have an incredible life and individuality to them; the barbarous yowls and in your face interaction of George Pettit; the maniacal and possessive figure of Chris Steele; the hard hitting and melodramatic mayhem from Jordan Hastings; the gritty but smoothly honest playing from Wade Macneil; and the soaring, solitary grace of Dallas Green; all five form a landmark of a performance that has been going strong for ten years. Yet like everything, all tales must come to an end, and Alexisonfire give this ending a justified tribunal of flying colours.
The breathing space before the final chapter of this tale is ceased with chants which ring the golden worth of the band’s name to which they reply with humble appreciation through the sullen loathing in ‘Rough Hands’ and the reigning glory of unified ‘woahs’ in ‘Young Cardinals’. The final letters are reached at the end of the page by the magnificent and wonderfully magic tones set by one of the band’s most recognisable numbers; ‘Happiness by the Kilowatt’ is filled with such rising magical wonder that it is hard to let go once it has finished. The night has officially come to the end. Good night Alexisonfire and god bless. (4.5/5)
Words by Aaron Lohan (@ooran_loohan)