BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
The beauty of Air Supply is that their well-crafted soft rock never diminishes.
An ageless ballad is a gift, and from the late-‘70s to mid-80s, Air Supply provided radio with a string of musical gems wrapped in a giant bow.
That Russell Hitchcock – he of the voice – can still present “Every Woman in the World,” “Even the Nights are Better” and “Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You)” in the distinctive timbre that characterized Air Supply’s music in its heyday is another reason to be thankful that the guys are still steadily touring.
Hitchcock, 68, and the elegantly lanky Graham Russell, 67, are celebrating their 42nd year of music and friendship and on Friday night, they returned to Chastain Park Amphitheatre – where they played in 2015 after a 20-year break from Atlanta – with 90 minutes of polished hits and a few fresher tunes.
Backed by a young, hungry quartet, including the “brutally handsome” Aaron Mclain, who spiked even the sappiest ballad with a zing of electric guitar, Air Supply and the fans who filled about half of the venue engaged in a mutual embrace.
Hitchcock, clad in black, stutter-stepped around the stage, flashing thumbs-up signs and blowing kisses, while Russell, his headset and guitar locked in place, alternately strolled and hopped in place. Both men clearly enjoy sharing the stage, and their easy interplay was a delight to witness.
In addition to their stash of hits, the pair performed the syrupy romancer “I Adore You” and Russell, who made reference to a new Air Supply album arriving soon, sang sans his partner on “One Glass Eye,” a quirky ditty that shares DNA with The Beatles (circa “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” thanks to the synthesizer tuba from Mirko Tessandori).
Much of the show was similar to Air Supply’s last visits here (the band also played Atlanta Symphony Hall last summer), with Russell managing to quiet the yippy Chastain crowd for 90 seconds while he recited one of his poems, “Invisible,” and both Russell and Hitchcock taking a stroll through the audience during “The One That You Love.”
Their quiet moment sitting on stools (“For 42 years, I always get the dodgy one,” Hitchcock joked as he rocked his wobbly seat) during the heartfelt “Two Less Lonely People in the World” provoked the requisite swoons, amplified by Marietta resident Hitchcock announcing that he and his longtime girlfriend were married in June.
A hallmark of Air Supply’s songs, along with Hitchcock’s inimitable voice, is the harmonizing with Russell on songs such as “Lost in Love” and the set-opening “Sweet Dreams”; they were as precise as ever Friday night.
After roaring through the breathless Jim Steinman rocker “Making Love Out of Nothing At All,” Air Supply returned for an encore that kicked off with their well-chosen cover of “Without You,” the 1970 Badfinger weeper made famous by Harry Nilsson that Air Supply charted with in 1991.
Even though it wasn’t an Air Supply original, Hitchcock and Russell managed to stamp it with their specialty – supreme sincerity.