To give you all a peek behind the curtain, when we originally ran our interview with Air Supply’s Graham Russell, we referred to he and Russell Hitchcock as “soft rock duo Air Supply.” Their publicist emailed back saying, “They really rock in concert and nobody on the Air Supply team prefers the ‘soft rock’ term. it really does not apply to them anymore. They were only called that back in the ’80s due to coming up in Australia with AC/DC, INXS, Midnight Oil, etc. Yes, they do powerful, emotional love songs, but nothing soft about it. They are full on Rock Band. You can see that at the show.”
I rolled my eyes and went about my day quietly bitching to my coworkers about how silly it was that anyone would suggest that Air Supply were a full-on rock band.
My sincerest apologies to Mr. Russell and Mr. Hitchcock. I was quite wrong and gladly admit that fact.
Firstly: a sold-out weeknight show in Lawrence is impressive for a legacy act such as they. Secondly: the crowd at Air Supply was more involved, energetic, and appreciative than most attending the show of the current hot band playing downtown. There was dancing, singing along, and full-throated cheers and thunderous applause after every song.
Also, let’s be fair because Russell Hitchcock, at the age of 74, can fucking wail.
His range has narrowed a smidge over the decades, but these songs still sound like Air Supply’s Greatest Hits, only live. I was fairly convinced at various points he absolutely had to be using a backing track or something, because I’ve never heard a band going on 50 years of performing sound this good. It was astonishing to hear them play these songs and just kill it.
It certainly helped that the backing musicians were, as my friend Andy put it, a group of young guns obviously assembled to come out and fuck the place up.
That said, though, Russell and Hitchcock know how to work a crowd. They told stories, they interacted with the crowd, and just worked the stage like the veterans they were. Every frantic wave from the audience was met with a grin and a wave back, those sitting in the front row attending their 70th (!) concert were mentioned by name, and it felt less like a classic rock show than something vibrant from a band whose frontmen happened to be halfway to 80.
And seriously? Russell Hitchcock has full sleeve tattoos on both arms. He’s harder-looking than AC/DC’s Brian Johnson.