Air Supply to perform high-energy show at CAC


For longtime lovers of rock music, Air Supply is a group that needs little introduction. With a slew of hits that have charted near the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 — “Lost in Love,” “All Out of Love,” “Every Woman in the World,” “The One That You Love,” “Here I Am,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Even the Nights Are Better” and “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” — and 16 studio albums under their belt, the band’s body of work over the last five decades speaks for itself.

That said, fans that haven’t yet made it to one of the group’s 5,000-plus live shows would likely be surprised by how hard they can rock in person. For as great as their recordings are, the orchestrated and mellow sound found on the albums doesn’t fully reflect the high-energy performances Air Supply brings to the stage.

Luckily, local followers of the band will get a chance to experience Air Supply’s’ spirited show for themselves, when they perform at 7:30 p.m. on June 9 at the Community Arts Center, 220 West Fourth St.

“(The show) is very loud. If people aren’t expecting that then maybe they should bring some earplugs,” said Air Supply lead vocalist Russell Hitchcock. “It’s not soft rock. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll show and it has been for many years.”

Hitchcock helped found Air Supply along with guitarist and songwriter Graham Russell back in 1975. While dozens of other members have joined and left the group through the years, those two have been a constant presence in the band for the entirety of its 49-year run. Hitchcock credited the pair’s great friendship, mutual respect and shared vision as the primary reasons they have been able to work together for so long in an industry where that rarely happens.

“Our decisions for Air Supply’s future are always very democratic,” Hitchcock said. “Graham says in the show that we have never had an argument. People find that impossible to believe, but it is the absolute truth. We don’t fight because we have never had any reason to.

“We have always presented a united front and that’s not just for the public, that is who we are,” he added. “I won’t let anybody say a bad word about him, and he’s the same.”

Nowadays, Hitchcock and Russell are joined in Air Supply by a youthful group of talented musicians that includes Aaron McLain (lead guitarist, musical director), Mirko Tessandori (keyboard), Doug Gild (bass) and Pavel Valdman (drums).

“We have got it all. That’s probably bragging, but they sound great, and they look great,” Hitchcock said. “Fortunately for us, they are all younger, so they probably have a lot more energy than we do; and they have more current influences than we do.”

With a rigorous touring schedule that often sees the band performing upwards of 100 shows per year, Hitchcock said he doesn’t have to work too hard to keep his powerful tenor voice in good shape, since his vocal cords are constantly being exercised. But he has tried to live a healthier lifestyle, adjusting his eating habits and cutting out alcohol about two-and-a-half years ago.

“You have to be in great shape to complete our schedule,” he said.

When asked why Air Supply has been able to enjoy the longevity it has seen, where droves of fans still turn out night after night to watch them perform, Hitchcock said it all comes down to the songs.

“If the song isn’t there to start with, then you don’t have any chance,” he said. “Especially when you have songs like ours, which really are simple and straight forward, but they really are straight-to-the-heart songs.

“It’s the content and the emotional connection we have with people that keeps us going,” he added.

Air Supply’s discography and live shows have resonated so much with some fans that they’ve become part of an ultra-dedicated group that the band affectionately refers to as “Airheads.” Unlike casual fans that might have seen the band perform once or twice, most of the members of this club have seen them dozens of times in person.

“For me, I would see the same faces at shows and I would think, ‘Well that’s pretty weird.’ I mean, I wouldn’t go and see me 20 times,” said Hitchcock. “But as our reputation grew and our career continued to flourish, we would see more and more of these Airhead fans.

“We are on a first-name basis with a lot of them and will have conversations at shows when we see them,” added Hitchcock. “They are just a great bunch of people, and they support us to the death.”

For the members of Air Supply, showing respect for their fans is of paramount importance. Hitchcock said he has seen many bands and musicians show a dismissive attitude towards their supporters when approached by them, and that isn’t something that sits well with him.

“It’s just something we would never think about doing ever,” he said. “If you sign up for this and you enjoy everything about it, like the fame — whatever that is — and the monetary rewards, then you should respect the fact that the people who come and see you are responsible for that.

“Turning anybody away for something as simple as a photograph or autograph is so disrespectful, because they have paid a lot of money to see you perform,” he added. “If it wasn’t for our fans we wouldn’t be here, and we recognize that.”

To this day, Air Supply continues to grow its fan base, as they now often find themselves performing not only for their original fans, but also the children and grandchildren of those fans. That’s something Hitchcock loves to see, because he knows the influx of new followers will only extend the legacy of the band.

“You can see them singing along with us, and they know the lyrics,” Hitchcock said, of the group’s younger fans. “It’s something else, because it probably isn’t cool to go to school and say you’re an Air Supply fan if you are 15.

“It’s wonderful, and we know for years to come people are still going to listen to our stuff.”

Whether you’re a new fan or have been with the band for its full ride, the members of Air Supply leave it all on the stage each night to make sure they create a lasting impression on all of those in the audience.

“One of the greatest things about playing live, is that it’s an instant verification of whether they like it or they don’t like it,” said Hitchcock. “You don’t have to wonder, because you can see and feel how they have been affected by the music.

“We have always considered ourselves to be a touring band more than a recording studio act,” he added. “We do it because we love it, and we do it because people want to see us. We still think that we sound pretty good and look respectable.”

For more information on Air Supply’s show at the Community Arts Center, visit or call 570-326-2424.

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