Monday, January 28, 2013
Concert review: Air Supply rocks Verizon Theatre back through the ‘80s with a slew of songs about love
The Australian tribute band managed a few laughs as well.
GRAND PRAIRIE The term “soft rock” has never been a compliment, even for Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell, the unapologetically sensitive frontmen of Air Supply who’ve made a long, lucrative career out of rocking softly. This may explain why the Aussie duo tries so hard to show how intense it can be.
Performing Saturday for a date-night crowd at Verizon Theatre, the Russells and their four-man backing band jacked up the bass and volume to Ozzfest levels and inflated their songs to stadium-rock proportions. True, some of their hits were arena-friendly to start with: 1983’s “Making Love Out of Nothing At All” was penned by Meat Loaf tunesmith Jim Steinman and recorded with guys from the E Street Band and guitar hero Rick Derringer.
But on Saturday, every song grew to new heights of bombasticity. Electric guitarist Aaron McLain fanned the flames with slick metal solos purloined from Night Ranger’s Greatest Hits while Amir Efrat played piano with perfect Springsteenian drama.
At times, it all started to sound like an ‘80s tribute band that takes itself way too seriously. Luckily, there was enough self-deprecation to save the show from unintentional parody.
Hitchcock – the short one with the white locks and soaring voice – hammed it up by blowing kisses, flashing his chest, and imitating his female fans. Russell – the tall one with the less-polished pipes – ribbed his band-mate (“he’s gone backstage to drink a cup of tea and fix his hair”) before poking fun at himself: He halted “Dance with Me” at its most dramatic point and, with perfect timing, ordered a fan with a camera to “Get my good side.”
But the show’s real saving grace was the songcraft. Air Supply’s lyrics run only as deep as the song titles, which on Saturday included “Lost in Love,” “The Power of Love,” “The One That You Love,” and of course, the show-closing “All Out of Love.” But the hooks were so sharp, the vocals so smooth and the power ballads so potent that Air Supply could have sung the words on the label of a can of corn and it still would have lifted your spirits.
Thor Christensen is a Dallas freelance writer.
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