Alexisonfire/Chickenhawk/The Computers - Cardiff, Solus - 4th November 2010 Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Friday, 12 November 2010 05:00




Another night in the bright lights of the big city and yet another night of precipitation across d'nation. But if the shitty weather threatened to put a, ahem, dampener on my evening, all was forgotten when I walked into tonight's venue and actually managed to see the opening band, The Computers.


With ticket price hikes and criminal additional fees meaning that you have to have a second job to buy concert tickets with ease these days, it is curious that opening bands are usually pushed onstage at an hour that generally means that the only people who can see them are doleites. Due to the fact that life invariably gets in the way of many opening bands, I didn't really expect to walk into Solus and see The Computers thrashing out their infectious brand of spunky punk rock. But that I did and, happily, their take on The Hives and Rocket From The Crypt (musically as well as visually) chewed up and spat out for a younger generation hits all the right alexlive1spots. The set ends with frontman Alex going walkabout and, after checking out the merch stand, actually finishes the set stood right by my side, obviously realising that I am the coolest mofo in the building.....


.....that should possibly read 'oldest' mofo in the building. In fact, a quick scan of the venue confirms this, and also that I appear to be one of the few people not wearing glasses. Geek chic, baby - I feel naked.


Chickenhawk smear their dirty, noisy rock all over the stage and actually crack seventeen pairs of national health spectacles with their set opener. Fusing Helmet-style heaviness with a Melvins-like oddity, Chickenhawk merge a brash, in your face edginess with a technical side that harks back to the heavier end of the Rush back catalogue, Rush, for those in attendance tonight, being that ironic band that the fat stoner kid likes in modern US teen movies. With a bass playing curiosity who would seem at home in either Mastodon or a care facility and a smart t-shirt featuring the Chickenhawk take on the classic Van Halen logo, this band impress themselves upon me and will have to be investigated further.


On the subject of merchandise, the £20 signs souring the tour shirts (support bands happily excepted) and commemorative scarf make me look up to see if the roof of the stadium has been closed given the inclement weather, then I realise that I am not at a stadium rock gig at all but in the smaller of the venues at Cardiff University. During a lengthy changeover (with kudos to AOF for allowing the support to use the full stage) the aforementioned scarf is permanently reflected in Jordan Hastings' bass drum, constantly taunting me and my sensibly priced merch ideals. And all this to a moody, brooding background of moribund murder ballads and alien student chatter. I am definitely in need of an eighteen song set to kick me back to life...


When Alexisonfire explode onto the stage with 'Young Cardinals' I find it hard to think of a modern rock band more vital at this moment. With a set housed around the foundations of the last couple of albums, 'Crisis' and 'Old Crows/Young Cardinals' (with the former just edging out its follow-up by the odd song), pretty much every song played tonight is met with several hundred young mouths spitting every word back at the band. 'Mailbox Arson' and 'Boiled Frogs' give way to 'Heading For The Sun' before 'Drunks, Lovers, Sinners And Saints' and 'We Are The Sound' flow into 'Old Crows', and this is pretty much how the setlist shapes up, sidestepping from 'Crisis' to the latest album with ease. 'Charlie Sheen vs Henry Rollins' from the split album with Moneen, and the title track from the new EP 'Dog's Blood' are the only tunes in the main fourteen song set not to be culled from the last two albums. An incendiary version of 'Keep It On Wax' is a real standout moment and the set proper ends with the great 'This Could Be Anywhere In The World'.


The band return to the stage with a stunning version of 'The Northern', before adding the solitary track from their self-titled debut, '44. Caliber Love Letter' and closing with a couple of tracks from 'Watch Out', 'Accidents' and 'Happiness By The Kilowatt', with the former being introduced by George Pettit as a song that he hates playing which sees the stage filled byalex2 Canadian guffaw. Special mention for Pettit who seems more at ease with his role as, at times, secondary (maybe even third) vocalist in the band every time I see him. Of those other voices in the band, Dallas Green remains a simple man cursed with undiluted star quality while Wade Macneil possesses my favourite of the many vocal chords on offer and, as we obviously share the same dietician, remains my favourite member of the band - love that voice. A big shout out also to bassist Chris Steele who is possibly the only rock 'n' roller who manages to pull off the 'retro man from pigeon coop' look that is sadly lacking in modern rock music. With hilarious dad-at-a-disco moves, waxed moustache and thrift store shirt, it really is hard to take your eyes from Steele which, seeing as talent drips from every pore of every band member, is high praise indeed.


I end my dissertation with sad news from the world of bootleg t-shirt sellers. As I leave the venue and head into the rain, the line of low-end bootleg merch on offer outside the venue is of a career low variety. Fiver a shirt, nice, but the worst bootleg shirt in modern history. And at a time when the piss Kiss-style official merchandise prices made the trash vendors primed for success. Hang your heads in shame, dealers of low quality illegal contraband......