It’s a tried-and-true formula: One man writes the songs, and one man sings them. But when those two men are Air Supply, the rock duo who took the global charts by storm in the early 1980s, the individual strengths become a powerful whole. Full of grace and gratitude, Air Supply played some of those hits at the Theater at MGM National Harbor recently.
English singer-songwriter and guitarist Graham Russell wrote many of Air Supply’s Top 10 hits, along with other tunes across the bands 17 records, and Australian vocalist Russell Hitchcock sings them all still. These two old friends are always ready to attribute their shared success to the other with heaps of earnest praise and genuine admiration.
“It doesn’t matter how many great songs you have written if you don’t have a great singer to sing them,” Graham said of Russell at MGM National Harbor on June 21.
Thick as thieves, Graham and Russell beamed and charmed while they performed for an eager sold-out audience. As much as they complemented each other musically, they also seemed a pair matched for performance — Graham tall and lean, often hunched over his guitar, and Russell, stocky and tattooed, a man who clearly has lived and loved. Both were absolutely jubilant and light on their feet as they moved about stage and later through the audience.
Air Supply held the crowd at rapt attention from song #1, but when the duo performed “Even the Nights Are Better,” from seventh album Now and Forever, as the second song, everyone in the house was completely committed to singing along.
Every song along the way was a lift to the spirit, but “Here I Am” from Air Supply’s sixth album The One That You Love really kicked things into high gear to close the first third of the show, featuring an extended audience singalong as Russell reached out to the audience physically and vocally as if to enfold them within his powerhouse tenor.
Stream The One That You Love by Air Supply on Spotify:
As Air Supply approached the end of the main set, the duo went straight for the heart with a series of beloved anthems — “Two Less Lonely People in the World” from Now and Forever, “The One That You Love” from the album of the same name, “Lost in Love” from fourth record Life Support, and “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” the power ballad that first surfaced on the band’s 1983 greatest hits collection.
During the performance of “The One That You Love,” Graham and Russell strode leisurely through the audience, singing and strumming guitar, while fans gathered around to walk with them. The scene was much as if you reconnected with two dear friends on a casual summer night while people took selfies with the musicians and shook their hands. Being among the audience really seemed to energize both men, and Graham and Russell resumed their positions on the stage with renewed vigor after their enthusiastic reception on the floor.
As mentioned previously, Air Supply closed the main set with “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” and you must experience this song live to truly understand its sheer power. While everyone mostly stood in the area of their seats during the show, people broke loose during the song, and folks gently crowded the pit and the aisles to fervently sing along with the band. Should a power ballad receive respect for its emotive capacity, then “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” particularly when performed by Air Supply, warrants nothing less than total awe.
Of course, Air Supply returned for an encore, which was mostly fun and loose, but the gents hit the crowd in the gut once more with “All Out of Love” from from that iconic Lost in Love record. Needless to say, everyone in the house participated in full-throated singing along, and some sentimental tears were shed by happy attendees.
When you’re in the mood to reach into your heart and lift your spirits a bit, turn to Air Supply, who are still touring strong with a show well worth your time. Here are some pictures of Air Supply performing at MGM National Harbor on June 21, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Paivi Salonen.