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AIR SUPPLY, Jazz Cafe, Camden, London
15 September 2011
last few years a mini industry seems to have sprung up around the
'guilty pleasure', typically those pop and soft rock songs from the mid
seventies through to the eighties that valued an easy melody over more
musically credible movements, whether they be punk, metal, reggae or
soul. None fit the description better than Air Supply, the saccharine
Australians whose Greatest Hits album must have set new records for the
most number of songs with the word 'love' in the title.
However as a
lover of all things melodic, a very rare UK show from their main men
Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock was worth checking out. Despite the
fact they enjoyed a worldwide hit with All Out Of Love and notched up
eight top 5 hits in the USA in the early eighties, even the intimate
Jazz Cafe venue was far from full. It was also a very international
crowd with a notable proportion from the Far East.
reservations pre-show were two-fold: whether they would focus primarily
in their first release in many years, Mumbo Jumbo, and whether it would
be mainly an acoustic show - but I needn't have worried on either count.
There was a
full, tight band of much younger musicians with guitarist Aaron MacLean
particularly impressive, while new material was kept to a minimum -
including the slightly dance oriented Sanctuary.
wonderful opening trio of the classic Even The Nights Are Better, Just
As I Am - a great slice of AOR by any other name with a fine guitar solo
- and Every Woman In The World set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Not every song hit the mark, and I approached the overplayed The Power
of Love with some trepidation, but was won over by a vocal tour de force
from Russell Hitchcock.
Melbourne native still has a great set of pipes on him, despite some
very Bob Catley-esque mannerisms. He also bore a worrying facial
resemblance to foul-mouthed football gaffer Joe Kinnear and an
unexpected set of tattoos to rank with fellow countryman Bon Scott.
Russell, who for all his years in Oz and the States retains the accent
of his native Nottingham, occasionally added his own more routine vocals
as well as strumming acoustic and occasionally electric guitar but very
much acts as the compere for the evening.
played a brand new song, Everywhere, that he had just penned, one of the
highlights of the evening saw both wandering through the crowd to
perform The One That You Love, and they seemed to be loving the
adulation as ladies reached out to hold them and people snapped camera
phones. Indeed the warmhearted way they connected with their fans
throughout was one of the things that made this such an uplifting show.
hit Lost in Love had everyone singing along, and Dance with Me kept up
the tempo, until the moment I had been waiting for more than any other,
Making Love Out Of Nothing At All with its typically grandiose Jim
Steinman arrangement, building from piano based beginnings to an
overwrought power ballad with Russell giving it the drama it deserved.
On a cramped
stage they never even left before the two encores, and as Graham said,
there could be no other closer than a sprawling All Out Of Love,
complete with drum solo and singalongs.
To be honest
as the set wore on the cheese factor increased and the hits were rather
padded out (while Sweet Dreams was surprisingly absent), but with the
crowd lapping them up joyously it hardly mattered.
If it was a
crime to enjoy the feelgood factor generated by this evening, then I
plead guilty as charged.
photos by Andy Nathan
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