We trust the opinion of our man, Amit Sharma. The man has some serious metal chops. So why in the name of all unholy fuckery does he like Airbourne so much? Please, Amit: explain?
It’s the eve of the Easter bank holiday weekend, and Aussie rockers Airbourne are in town to provide the perfect soundtrack to some carefree Thursday night boozing. It would be all too easy to write off a band that’s a) from Down Under, b) was formed by two brothers, and c) can’t deny the influence of their heroes AC/DC as nothing beyond a budget Akka-Dakka.
But watered-down and radio-friendly Airbourne are not. Instead they opt for a faster, more frenetic hard rock sound, reminiscent of AC/DC’s High Voltage and Powerage eras. Fair enough, it’s nothing groundbreaking – if you are looking for something profoundly innovative you’re better off waiting for the next Tool record – but if you like straight-up, balls-out rock, then you could do a lot worse than these guys.
Expectations are high tonight: the last time Airbourne played in the UK, they left us with one of the most memorable moments of Sonisphere Festival 2009. Frontman Joel O’Keefe climbed a 30 foot high speaker in the rain, which of course was not death-defying enough for him – he then decided to rip into a solo while dangling off the wet scaffolding for good measure. And no, there was no safety net.
Watch Airbourne increase Sonisphere’s insurance premiums by a flying fuckload:
Even with their second studio album, No Guts. No Glory, released only last month, Airbourne have built a fierce reputation for hi-octane live shows and being totally honest about their blatantly obvious musical influence. From the moment Joel bursts on stage and strums the opening chords to ‘Raise The Flag’, it becomes crystal clear that it’s business as usual for Airbourne tonight. Yes, it sounds somewhere in between ‘Riff Raff’ and ‘Bad Boy Boogie’, but who cares when you are necking beers like ghost of George Best, and just want to hear some rock n roll? ‘Diamond In The Rough’ sounds massive in the Apollo auditorium, with the crowd matching the volume of the cranked PA for the anthemic chorus and defiantly quashing any uncertainty on whether Airbourne were ready for a venue of this size.
Tonight’s set is pretty much a summary of Airbourne’s career so far, with almost the entire debut album Runnin’ Wild performed along with over half of the latest record. Many of the songs do end up sounding quite similar, though perhaps that’s the reason behind the band’s reliability in the live realm – you know what you’re going to get and they know exactly how to deliver it. If their music involved weird time signatures, virtuoso playing and ten minute long masterpieces, would Joel really be able to run around like a greyhound on whizz, jesting with the crowd, and chugging on a bottle of Jack Daniels between songs?
Airbourne keep things simple and to the point, which allows Joel the opportunity to take a run around the venue during his extended guitar solo in ‘Girls In Black’. When he gets to the balcony, he faces the stage and guns down the rest of his band with his trusty Gibson SG – much to the amusement of everyone in the room.
The highlights of the set are all crammed in at the end – new single ‘No Way But The Hard Way’ sits well alongside the three anthems off Runnin’ Wild that make up the band’s encore. Closing with ‘Blackjack’, Airbourne prove yet again that they are worth every penny of the ticket price. Stand Up For Rock N Roll? Just try stopping them.
Airbourne @ London Hammersmith Apollo setlist:
Raise The Flag
Chewin’ The Fat
Diamond In The Rough
Girls In Black
What’s Eatin’ You
Born To Kill
Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women
Back On the Bottle
No Way But The Hard Way
Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast
Stand Up for Rock ‘N’ Roll