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MAKING LOVE OUT OF NOTHING BUT GALL: WIND BACK WEDNESDAY FINDS AIR SUPPLY IN NEED


Last week, Air Supply, the Australian group with massive success in the 1970s that nobody wants to talk about because they’re not even as cool as daggy Little River Band, announced they will be back on Australian stages in early 2019.

Wind Back Wednesday takes the chance to commemorate, a tad early, the tenth anniversary of this 2009 night in the Opera House when it looked as if the two Australians were all out of love. Fear not though, this review has love and other bruises.

AIR SUPPLY AND THE SYDNEY SYMPHONY

Sydney Opera House, May 6

Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock have not had much respect as Air Supply. Not here, where we’ve never felt comfortable with the softest of soft rock, nor even in the USA, where they were huge but even at their height always had about them the faint aroma of Mother's Day music.

The fairness or otherwise of that is irrelevant now but you can feel the legacy of it in their defensiveness over the years when quizzed about other, lesser selling, successful acts.

You can hear it in the way both men now like to point out early and often just how big they still are in Latin America and Southeast Asia. And you can see it in the needy way they don't just seek but practically demand adulation during their shows despite having a committed audience.

I have never seen so much orchestration of "spontaneous audience response", not even at a highly choreographed teen show or in the shameless shtick of Beach Boy Mike Love.

There is the frequent triumphalist posture of Russell, arms raised to the ceiling as if receiving a standing ovation at every turn for his guitar god poses, and Hitchcock's habit of unsubtly encouraging more and more applause like a cheap warm-up man.

Then during the opening bars of a song clearly less familiar to this audience than the hits to come, the keyboard player begins applauding, gesturing to the audience to follow his lead, something repeated by Russell a few songs later.

And when a suggestion that we come down the front or stand up is politely ignored Hitchcock gestures vigorously and mouths “stand up, stand up” until we do.

Love us, love us. Please. Now.

The more suspicious might suspect some of this fragile ego was why we could barely hear the Sydney Symphony (or more accurately, the Sydney Symphony string section playing what sounded like surprisingly well-arranged parts) during the first hour.

But I think the explanation is a more prosaic shockingly bad mixing job given the drums sounded like empty tins being hit at the end of a long tunnel, the bass was virtually non-existent and Russell's vocals often were not much better.

Still, in the words of the philosophical Russell, "life is like a river: sometimes it runs fast, sometimes it runs slow" (yes, like his lyrics his between song chat features the kind of lines even Hallmark would reject as too awfully cliched).

So we should just take up our positions for Lost In Love, Making Love Out Of Nothing At All and Every Woman In The World. Or in the words of the skipping Hitchcock, "let's keep it rocking".

Indeed.

Air Supply play QPAC, Brisbane, April 23; The Plenary, Melbourne, April 24; Sydney Opera House, April 26; Astor Theatre, Perth, April 28; Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland, April 30

#AirSupply #WindBackWednesday

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