Live Review: Eastpak Tour – HMV Forum, London, October 14th 2009

AlexisonfireTonight, the annual and month-long Eastpak Tour hits the capital, presenting the strong line-up of Alexisonfire, Anti-Flag, Four Year Strong and The Ghost of a Thousand to a sold-out HMV Forum.

Brighton’s The Ghost of a Thousand take to the stage, donning all-white outfits, but their music is far from any gimmicks – it’s honest, brute and will hit you harder than any freight train. From start-to-finish, they make the most of their time as they relentlessly smash through their 30-minute set with songs such as Bright Lights and new single Knees, Toes, Teeth. A rather unorthodoxly large setting for the melodic hardcore mob who are usually confined to cramped venues, but their sound is far from lost  and they play with just as much ballsy energy, as vocalist Tom Lacey demonstrates his disregard for the barrier, spending just as much time off the stage and in the crowd than on; TGOAT have most definitely made a statement tonight.

It’s been 11-months since the Massachusetts 5-piece Four Year Strong hit these shores and, surprisingly, for a band that used to have such huge hype, it appears that the almost-standstill London crowd haven’t particularly missed them. To the band’s credit, the stage presence is certainly still there, with synthesist Josh Lyford enthusiastically engaging with the few of those who actually care down at the front for those obligatory mic-grabs, and the mammoth guitarist/vocalist of Dan O’Connor amusingly bouncing around on stage. Unfortunately, the boppy vocals of O’Connor and Alan Day aren’t particularly shown well tonight with the venue’s poor sound, as they kick off their fairly predictable set, jam-packed with tunes from Rise or Die Trying, with favourite Bada Bing! Wit’ A Pipe! and, astoundingly, play no new material. A good effort, feeling somewhat lacklustre in places.

The politically-charged punk-rockers Anti-Flag are up next and certainly deliver, as they provide a whole lot of anthemic sing-a-longs from a mix of tunes from their back catalogue, with songs such as Die For Your Government, as well as a Clash cover of Should I Stay or Should I Go? going down an absolute storm, even inspiring a huge circle pit from the masses – a charm and response that was certainly missing from their predecessor’s set. Thankfully, to some, the band keep their preaching of leftist ideology  to a minimum tonight, as they focus on firing through their set of brilliant generic punk rock. Some say Anti-Flag are a ‘hit-and-miss’ band, however, they’ve never failed to impress yours truly.

As the lights dim for tonight’s headliners, it’s almost as if a magnet has drawn everyone to the stage, as there is a mass flurry to get as close to the stage as possible – it’s clear that the London crowd is gagging for a taste of post-hardcore kings Alexisonfire.  A meaty set lasting for a decent hour-and-a-quarter is bestowed upon the loyal and excitable contingent, with newer songs such as the Old Crows, Young Cardinals, and Accept Crime gaining just as much of a rapturous response, from a set predominantly full of Crisis material. For the few who are not particular familiar or into the band, it tends to drag, but the majority can’t seem to get enough of Dallas and co. tonight, and it’s evident that the band love London, just as much as London loves them, as they perform with just as much youthfulness and zest as if it was 2001.

Faye Turnbull.

We’ll be posting an interview with Four Year Strong very soon!

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