Air Supply LIVE! on the Beach in Seaside Heights, NJ
It’s Saturday, July 23, 2022, and music lovers in Seaside Heights, NJ are excitedly awaiting a concert on the beach by the world-famous Australian pop duo, Air Supply.
Comprised of gifted guitarist/songwriter Graham Russell from England and his bandmate, vocalist extraordinaire Russell Hitchcock from Australia, the two members of Air Supply met in 1975 on their first day of rehearsals as actors in the Sydney version of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Following evening performances of Superstar, Hitchcock and Russell moonlighted as a duo, quickly gaining a reputation for musical quality thanks to Hitchcock’s soaring tenor voice, the pair’s excellent vocal harmonies, and the original songs Russell created especially for the budding duo.
One afternoon, the young men recorded a single, “Love and Other Bruises,” which climbed the Australian music charts, and Air Supply was born. According to Russell, he got the name for the band in a dream, saying, “I dreamt of a big billboard. The billboard was white and it had all different colored flashing lights on the perimeter of it. And on the billboard, in black, were two words which said: ‘Air Supply.’”
The next year, the group was given the opportunity to open for Rod Stewart in Australia, and also went on tour with him in both the United States and Canada.
After the tour was over, Hitchcock and Russell found themselves back in Australia. Feeling a need to start from square one again, they recorded Life Support, an album featuring “Lost in Love,” which climbed the charts in Australia and ultimately found its way to music executive Clive Davis in New York. Davis signed Air Supply to Arista Records, and in 1980, “Lost in Love” became the fastest selling hit single in the world, leaping straight up the U.S. charts.
Seven top-five singles later, Air Supply managed to equal The Beatles’ run of consecutive top-five singles. Their albums sold millions of copies and several of the group’s songs went on to achieve over a million plays on the radio. In fact, Air Supply guitarist/songwriter Graham Russell was even awarded a special BMI Million-Air Certificate for over three million radio performances of his composition, “All Out of Love.”
At 8pm, just as the sun is beginning to set, the members of the Air Supply band — Aaron McLain on guitar, Doug Gild on bass, Mirko Tessandori on keyboards, and Pavel Valdman on drums — make their way onto the Seaside Heights beach stage. Mystical sounds float over the audience as drums roll and cymbals shimmer.
Music lovers on the beach cheer when Air Supply guitarist Graham Russell and vocalist Russell Hitchcock hit the stage.
Opening with a powerful rendition of their 1981 Top 5 power ballad, “Sweet Dreams,” Hitchcock starts off singing lead — his voice sounding as clear and powerful as ever — while Russell plays guitar left-handed. The pair croons together in harmony on the famous “Close your eyes I want to ride the skies in my sweet dreams” chorus before Aaron McLain wails on an electric guitar solo. Music lovers in the sand whistle and cheer for this orchestral-sounding pop band.
Hitchcock welcomes the crowd announcing, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen! Are you ready?” The audience reacts with enthusiastic applause as the group performs a dynamic rendition of their 1982 Top 5 hit, “Even the Nights Are Better.” Four-part harmonies ring out as audience members on the beach sing along to the song’s well known “Even the nights are better/Now that we’re here together” chorus.
Moving on to the group’s 1985 Top 20 hit, “Just As I Am,” concertgoers sway back and forth to the easy groove. Lead guitarist Aaron McLain’s electric guitar swirls on this power ballad which is accompanied by Mirko Tessandori’s cascading piano and Pavel Valdman’s driving drums. Dynamics increase as the emotion builds and the arrangement modulates to a climatic ending filled with enthusiastic audience cheers, shouts, and applause.
Russell and Hitchcock trade off on vocals on Air Supply’s 1980 Top 5 hit, “Every Woman in the World.” The audience happily joins in singing the “You’re every woman in the world to me/You’re my fantasy, you’re my reality” refrain on this Graham Russell-penned pop smash.
After Hitchcock announces, “We’ve been around a long time, and we take nothing for granted, so we appreciate your coming to see us,” the group performs its 1981 Top 5 hit, “Here I Am.” The crowd emphatically joins in singing on the “Just when I thought I was over you/And just when I thought I could stand on my own” refrain as Hitchcock’s iconic voice soars over the beach and onto the boardwalk.
Graham Russell takes the mic announcing, “Seaside Heights, good evening! It’s so nice to be with you. Our mission has always been to bring people together. Tonight we are yours and, in return, you are ours.” Russell plays the twangy acoustic intro to 1980’s powerful “Chances,” a number which has Aaron McLain soloing while couples slow dance on the sand to this power ballad.
Russell switches over to electric guitar for “Goodbye.” Accompanied by Mirko Tessandori’s rolling, cascading piano accompaniment, the band joins in on this emotional power ballad which is sung by both “Russells” — Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock.
Hitchcock acknowledges, “This is a Graham Russell composition. It’s a beautiful love song — a love story — called ‘I Adore You.’” Walking around the stage as they play and sing to the crowd and to one another, the two musicians share the lead on this gorgeous folk-rock number which features an intricate Aaron McLain guitar solo.
After acknowledging McLain’s talents, Russell asks the crowd, “Are you enjoying? We are, too! Being outside in the U.S. in the summer — there’s nothing like it!” As Russell Hitchcock takes a short break, Graham Russell chants a poem from his book, Turn Left at Greenland, before performing a solo number, the ballad, “I Won’t Stop Loving You.”
When Hitchcock returns, the musicians launch into their 1980 Top 40 hit, “Two Less Lonely People in the World,” their voices perfectly harmonizing as heads in the audience gently nod along to the nostalgic sounds. The audience sings along with Hitchcock as Russell strums his guitar before Doug Gild’s bass and Pavel Valdman’s drums accompany Aaron McLain on a swirling guitar solo.
Following a Graham Russell acoustic guitar solo, Russell and Hitchcock perform their 1981 #1 smash, “The One That You Love.” Audience members sing along, their voices rising above the roar of the waves on the shore. After asking, “Are you ready to sing?” the duo leads the audience in an a cappella version of the song’s famous chorus, the entire crowd happily joining in on the famous “Here I am/The one that you love/Askin’ for another day” refrain.
Following enthusiastic applause, the group moves on to its 1980 #3 hit, “Lost in Love.” Music lovers on the beach sing along as both Russells smile approvingly prior to joining back in with the impromptu chorus. Mirko Tessandori’s cascading piano and flawless four-part back-up vocals — along with a wailing Aaron McLain guitar solo — distinguish the arrangement before Hitchcock teaches the audience a clapping rhythm which they happily perform together with him.
Hitchcock announces, “Kindness goes a long way, but love goes a lot further,” before he and the band perform Air Supply’s 1983 #2 smash, “Making Love Out of Nothing At All.” Giving this power ballad all they’ve got, the crowd loves this tour de force performance which has Aaron McLain impressing on a distorted guitar solo; Pavel Valdman pounding his tom toms, crashing his cymbals, and playing with sticks overhead; and audience members singing along on this classic ’80s power ballad.
Following hoots and hollers from the standing crowd, Hitchcock, Russell and the band leave the stage, but return to perform an encore of Harry Nilsson’s “Without You.”
On this dynamic arrangement, Hitchcock sings in his lower register before switching over to his high register and impressing the audience with his emotional and powerful performance.
After thanking the members of the band and the group’s sound, lighting, production, and crew personnel along with the men and women of our country’s armed forces, Russell says, “Thank you for sharing this gorgeous evening! We want you to sing with us. Can you do that?”
The crowd responds in the affirmative, and Russell launches into Air Supply’s 1980 #2 hit, “All Out of Love,” singing, “I’m lying alone with my head on the phone/Thinking of you till it hurts.” Soon, the spectacular voice of Russell Hitchcock picks up the song’s famous melody, his words ringing out over the rolling waves, “I’m all out of love/I’m so lost without you/I know you were right believing for so long.”
The audience sings together on the beach, experiencing this classic number as a community. They are still on their feet for the riveting conclusion when the music swells, the crowd cheers, and the duo says, “Thank you, Seaside Heights, you’re beautiful!” and Hitchcock, Russell, and the band bow and exit, leaving the audience wanting more.
To learn more about Air Supply, please go to airsupplymusic.com. For information on upcoming Seaside Heights Live concerts on the beach — including America on August 6, Greensky Bluegrass on August 13, George Benson on August 14, and the Seaside Summer Freestyle Fest on August 17 — please click on seasideheightslive.com.