Alexisonfire gives Vancouver a smoking farewell
Alexisonfire played their final show in Vancouver on Dec. 17, 2012. (Ramon Klose/CTV)
Published Tuesday, December 18, 2012 9:12AM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 18, 2012 1:47PM PST
So long. Farewell. Auf wiedersehen. Adieu, Alexisonfire.
If the well-documented script is to be believed, last night’s show at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum was Alexisonfire’s final concert in British Columbia. Guitarist Dallas Green’s City and Colour project has become a critical and commercial success. Second guitarist Wade MacNeil has morphed into the lead singer of British hardcore types Gallows. Technically, this is a band that’s already broken up. It’s a combination of bloody-mindedness and a respect for their fans that’s brought the old band back together for one final slog around the planet, culminating in 10 Canadian dates, beginning Monday night.
Still, if you’re going to go, go with a bang.
In Pictures: Alexisonfire plays final Vancouver show
“This is not a funeral, people!” insisted lead singer/screamer George Pettit by way of introducing “Born And Raised.”
“This is a wake! We’ve come to celebrate the 10 years that you gave us!”
He was right. Because even though there was a palpable air of sadness drifting across the Coliseum before kick-off, the crowd had come to party hard. Belying Vancouver’s reputation as a city of placid audiences, the general admission ticketing policy produced probably the wildest moshpit of 2012.
“That’s a first!” smiled Pettit, pointing out the inspirational sight of a young man, quite literally, crowdsurfing in a wheelchair.
The assembled fans played their part. So did Alexisonfire. For a band whose original split was admittedly less than amicable, their commitment to their performance was unwavering, the song selection a testament to punk rock/hardcore ideals of all killer, no filler. The set began with the explosion of “Young Cardinals” and never let up. “Heading For The Sun” was the perfect illustration of the duality behind both the success and the dissolution of the band; Dallas Green’s natural vocal affinity for melody the uneasy bedfellow to Pettit’s raw emotional bellowing. With Green widely seen by Alexisonfire fans as the villain of the split, it was Pettit the crowd was responding to. Six songs into the set and Pettit had already lost his shirt while Green, hardly a natural frontman, was happy to take a back seat.
The moments when their disparate talents gelled were when the magic happened. “Old Crows,” its “We are not the kids we used to be” lyrics laced with irony given the situation, fired up the crowd to new levels of enthusiasm. “We Are The Sound” kept them there.
“I’m not blowing smoke up your ass,” smiled a sweaty Pettit. “This is my favourite Alexisonfire show that’s ever happened in this city.”
“Thank you very much,” added Green, the master of understatement.
A blistering encore of “The Northern,” “This Could Be Anywhere” and “Happiness The Kilowatt” ended with the five members of Alexisonfire taking their final B.C. bows arm in arm, the pleasure of a job well done evident on their faces.
Stranger things than Alexisonfire reforming and returning a few years down the line have definitely happened. But if last night really marked the beginning of the end, at least they did it on their own terms. And, most importantly, they looked and sounded like rock gods while they were doing it.