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Live Review: Eastpak Antidote Tour (Alexisonfire, Anti-Flag, Four Year Strong and The Ghost of A Thousand) - Portsmouth Pyramids - 21/10/2009

The Eastpak Antidote Tour was making it’s final UK stop over at the Portsmouth Pyramids. It’s perhaps not the most glamorous location that the bands have graced over the past two weeks, a community centre with a foldaway stage. But that said there’s something fitting about the location tonight, it fits the primary ethos of this entire tour, its off the cuff, its DIY, its punk.

The bands tonight however, operate with a great deal of professionalism, too much, some might say in the case of openers Ghost Of A Thousand. While the band execute their set perfectly competently, there is a distinct lack of drive and ferocity that one has come to expect from the Brighton punk-rockers. Like some wild animal put into captivity, the band seem somewhat tamed tonight, never breaking into full stride.

The rest of the evening is left to the North Americans, and they deliver in spades. Four Year Strong bound onto the stage in emphatic fashion. Their happy-go-lucky enthusiasm is as infectious as rabies, with the whole crowd bouncing around like a bunch of excited kids who’ve been given too much sugar at Christmas. Their dual, and sometimes even tri-vocalists give the band an enchantingly raw approach, rough and ready. The only notable drawback from the set coming through the band’s choice of songs, with absolutely no tracks being played from the band’s recently released 90s covers album, 'Explains It All'. But a setlist comprising entirely from breakthrough album 'Rise Or Die Trying', still proves to be worth its salt when it comes to sing-a-longs.

Anti-Flag are a band who are forever splitting opinions. Here’s mine, they suck. But to give the band their due, they dominate the stage with an air of authority above any of the other bands playing tonight, and the crowd lap it up. The band only rattle the cage further with an abundance of mid-song chanting and frequent visits to the pit. A toning down of the band’s somewhat previously tiresome political views also seems a mature alteration to the band’s show, whilst still retaining their principle ethos. This said, an absolute slaughtering of The Clash’s, ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’, puts perspective firmly back into place, they suck.

Headlining the show tonight are genre veterans Alexisonfire. With the maturation of sound on their recently released, fourth studio album 'Old Crows/Young Cardinals', a simultaneous transition may be expected from the live show and to some extent this is so. But while an air of wisdom may now be part of the band’s make up, they are still as potent as ever. New album tracks such as ‘Young Cardinals’ seem to gain as much of a reaction as some of the more previously tested songs. And new or old the band never let the audience off their toes. With a contrasting combination of George Petit’s possessed shouting, Wade MacNeil’s harsh vocals and Dallas Green’s haunting harmonies all washing over the audience at once, drenching them in a glorious amalgamation of the three. It’s a fitting end to a tour which has bought together an eclectic mix of bands, and worked brilliantly.

Roll on Eastpak Antidote 2010.

Official Alexisonfire website
Official Anti-Flag website
Four Year Strong on MySpace
Official Ghost of A Thousand website

Tom Shepherd

Alter The Press!