I couldn’t help but grinning when I read the answer from my editor in chief after I told her via email Air Supply was coming to The Magic City Casino and I wanted to get a photo pass for their show. The front runners of eighties soft-rock, Air Supply knew how to write a love song, creating the illusion of romance with sweeping ballads and sweet melodies. Singer-songwriter/guitarist Graham Russell and lead vocalist Russell Hitchcock met in 1975 in Sydney while rehearsing for Jesus Christ Superstar. They begin playing night clubs together as a duo after their play performances, and eventually made a two song demo which got them a record deal.
Their first single was made in one day, and it went to #1 on the charts. In their first year, they toured with Rod Stewart in Australia and North America. Their big break in the United States came from Clive Davis in 1980, who signed them to Arista Records that very same year after hearing, “Lost in Love”, which was a tremendous sales success, as was the follow-up, “All Out of Love”. They sold tens of millions of copies of records in that first year, and made a permanent imprint on pop culture throughout the 80s. The trademark sound of Russell Hitchcock’s soaring tenor voice and Graham Russell’s simple yet majestic songs created a unique sound that has inflamed hearts and has brought joy and tears to many during the four decades they have been together as a band. And yes, maybe you cannot classify their music as “rock”, but make no mistake: their show is exceptionally good, they get the audience up on their feet and get the people dancing in the aisles and singing along with them. Besides, I had another solid reason for going: my significant other loves them. They have been coming to The Magic City Casino at least once a year for the last few and we have attended in at least a couple of occasions: lovely evenings bringing back wonderful memories from my teen years while listening to some old romantic songs. And this year wouldn’t be an exception, and will come with an additional perk: I would be able to take some good pictures of the band in addition to enjoying the show.
The show was supposed to start at 8:00 pm, however Miami’s weather had deteriorated during the last hour and the persistent rain was unstoppable, menacing with forcing the cancellation of the show (the main stage is outdoors, located in the center of the race track). We arrived at the casino on time, and quick a peek at the stage revealed enormous plastic covers everywhere, nonetheless the place was far from being deserted: fans were lining up to get protective ponchos kindly being offered by the venue’s staff as a protection from the rain, and no one seemed willing to go back home. The front of the stage looked like a complete swarm, with chairs soaked in rain, yet a determined crowd lingered for another half an hour or so, until the clouds in the sky started to vanish and the rain ceased to fall. Immediately several staff’s members grabbed cleaning utensils in an effort to dry up a “lake” practically flooding the first two rows; while the most undaunted fans paid no attention to the mud and occupied their seats using the ponchos to cover the wet chairs. I thanked myself for the great idea of being wearing boots: the photo pit was completely flooded as well.
Without much fanfare the band appeared on stage while many were still taking positions and began the night with “Even the Nights Are Better”. Immediately the lights started to dance and once again I confirmed the excellent sound quality the venue is well-known for: the mix was spot on, clear and well balanced. And the guys, well, I said it before: they still got it in them, and never disappoint: they put in a magnificent show together. They are such a perfect combination: Graham is clearly a world class writer, gentlemen and entertainer, with Russell being a unique vocalist; one of those rare people that just have something special that it’s just a gift. And right there before my eyes I realized how unique Russell Hitchcock’s voice is – it is so immediately identifiable, and after all these years, if you close your eyes, it is as if no time has passed. He sounds amazing, and he still has the range – time has not withered his voice one bit!
Also, at 66, with 40 years plus in the business, Hitchcock could teach young acts a thing or two about fan appreciation. Throughout the set, he playfully interacted with his audience, waving, joking, and blowing kisses. Another thing about him is how he moves – glides really – across the stage. There was a tremendous amount of artistry going on with his feet throughout the show. It was really mesmerizing, a real delight to the eyes of hundreds of fans mobbing the singer for hugs, kisses and photos. After every single song they garnered prolonged applauses, with most concertgoers rising to their feet. Around three songs in Graham joked “Not even the rain could prevent us from playing for you tonight Miami! Is great to be back!”. A thunderous outcry rose at unison from all the corners of the amphitheater. The audience was in ecstasy.
Their perennial anthems kept coming one after another, and they showed no signs of slowing down: Lots of energy, rocking out, hit after hit. Everyone sang, waved, cried…you could feel the love in the air. People were singing, hugging complete strangers every time there was a new song, and asking for more and more. It was a magical moment driven by the kind of old-time showmanship that can be lost on some of today’s bands: Hitchcock and Russell were masters of their craft. Throughout the concert, Graham was compelled to connect with his fans – sometimes with a look, sometimes throwing a guitar pick in the air, sometimes winking at the ones in the first rows. The energy, the sound, and the interaction with the crowd was truly making a night to remember; and the backing band, comprised by young musicians whose probably weren’t even born when Graham and Russell were already traveling the world and composing mega-hits, played incredibly well inflating a new air to those timeless compositions.
Though these guys have aged as all of us have, they did not miss a beat and still have a whole lotta’ life to give despite the grey hair. People who think this is just a mellow band of love songs really need to see them in concert. They are not mellow at all, they perform like true rock and roll band that delivers such a high energy show. They keep sounding like in their heyday, they keep sounding like Air Supply. If they come near you and you are up for a fabulous and fun-filled evening, take your other half to their show and you won’t regret it.
Sweet Dreams / Even the Nights Are Better / Just As I Am / Every Woman in the World / Here I Am / Chances / I Adore You / Son of the Father / Two less Lonely People in the World / The One That You Love / Lost in Love / Making Love Out of Nothing at All
Desert Sea Sky / Shake it / All Out of Love