Given To Fly

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Airport Impressions - Tattingers, Rabat 22/10/2010 {Dean Muscat, Published in The Times of Malta, 27/10/2010, p.22}

Given To Fly

Tattingers nightclub was rammed to the rafters with fans who turned up for Airport Impressions’ launch of their debut album Minutes Of A Lifetime last Friday. Starting from humble origins as an acoustic duo formed by Errol Sammut and Johann Schembri in 2005, this local band eventually evolved into its current four–piece line-up that includes Steve Farrugia and Chris Curmi. They have won 5 local music awards whilst also gaining quite the fanbase thanks to their well crafted tunes and engaging gigs.

The band came out on stage to a Riverdance styled instrumental and started with Minutes Of A Lifetime opener David Played Guitar, following swiftly with their current single Freedom. The four musicians’ accumulated excitement seemed to get the better of them during these first few numbers, as they all appeared slightly too eager to force a performance out of themselves.

When they had exerted their excess adrenaline, they began to really hit their stride. Fear For Life was particularly stunning; Errol’s wavering falsetto whirled around the venue over Farrugia’s thumping drumming during the song’s middle section.

The setlist also included a couple of songs from the band’s 2009 EP Seeing With Eyes Closed. Wake Up featured violinist Kathleen Cardona who enhanced the song’s Irish qualities, and mid-way through an understated performance of The Air We Breathe, Malta’s pop-rock princess and fellow Jagged House label-mate Ira Losco walked out on stage to join Errol on vocal duties to the delight of the crowd. Ira’s smoothly cool vocals complemented Errol’s mercurial timbre surprisingly well, and this in turn compensated for what would have otherwise been a completely cheesy tactic.

Barely giving anyone a chance to – ahem - breathe, guitarist Johann Schembri teased the audience with the opening riff notes of the band’s soul-searching stomper Walk With Me, which since its radio release earlier this year has become one of their most instantly recognizable singles. The whole club erupted into a hubbub of epicene shrieks and roars that couldn’t even be drowned out when the full band dived into the song. Errol sang the middle-8 line - “When you got a soul then you feel alright” - like his life depended on it, resultantly forcing everyone to chant the lyric back to him word for word, hands striking the air. Red streamers were then shot out, and floated serenely above the pulsating crowd for the remainder of the song.

“He is in seventh heaven tonight,” Errol remarked whilst pointing to his left at Johann. Soaking up the passionate response, the guitarist certainly had a boyish beam glued to his face, and to be fair all four of them were practically levitating with delight.

They followed with back-to-back performances of two of the new album’s highlights, Elusive and Long Way Gone. Both beautifully crafted songs with soaring melodies that just keep growing and growing until they reach ethereal proportions.

These songs will doubtlessly become another two of the band’s near-future live favorites, so this night offered the crowd an opportunity to stay quiet and simply lose themselves in the band’s live performance while the songs are still only vaguely familiar.

Errol, in particular, was captivating to watch during these numbers. He sang with a heart-wrenching intensity and a faraway look in his eyes, which seemed to suggest that while he was physically present in the room, his mind was completely submerged in the narrative of the songs; engaged in channeling every last drop of emotion inside himself to his audience. Given this sort of evidence it is impossible not to realise that Sammut is slowly but surely becoming an unparalleled frontman on the local music scene.

Airport Impressions finished off the night with an encore of their eerily epic Borderline. In front of the stage, some of the crowd’s more slender members were lifted onto their friends’ shoulders. Session guitarist Wayne Camilleri delivered the euphoric guitar solo, setting up the song’s irresistible vocal hook-line of "Oh-oh-oh-oh-ohh,” which turned the crowd into a collective chorus, singing the line over and over and then some. The veins on Errol’s neck alarmingly protruded as he drained the last of his stored energy on this final number. The band took their bows to ear-pounding cheers and applause from a crowd drunk on two hours of pure musical emotion.

It was a truly impressive gig, even more so considering the added pressures of it being the band’s album launch where most in the audience were only really familiar with a handful of songs in the set. With Minutes Of A Lifetime now released to the public, the future looks decisively bright for Airport Impressions.