Airbourne at the 02 Academy, Glasgow


Airbourne at the 02 Academy, Glasgow

Airbourne frontman Joel O'Keeffe atop a bank of Marshall speakers

I’ve been a fan of Airbourne for just short of a year, having been introduced to their anthemic Runnin’ Wild whilst playing Rock Band. It’s typical of pretty much every song in their repertoire – hammering drums, screaming guitars, and lyrics spat forth with relentless pace.

Elegant, Airbourne are not, but they deliver pure, distilled Rock ‘n’ Roll in the mould of AC/DC with the kind of drive and conviction that leaves the impression they’d never walk off stage anything less than completely spent.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to see them start their gig in Glasgow, part of their 2010 No Guts, No Glory tour, a little on the flat side. Making the disappointing decision to go the same way every wall-of-noise pub band does, and crank all the levels to the point where you couldn’t pick out a single instrument, it would have been hard for the neutral to find what the Airbourne fan has already discovered in that early part of the gig.

The drums were nice and clear, with the accoustics of the venue working well – certainly a cut above the likes of the SECC, but aside from that the blur of guitars and vocals wouldn’t have left any potential album buyers with a song they could have looked for on the back cover of the albums.

That said I already own the pair of them, so I was left to just enjoy the brute force delivery of the hits when I recognised them, and by the number of others singing along during choruses it’s obvious I wasn’t alone there. Clearly it was the tracks from the original album that were held in the highest regard, and things picked up noticeably when the band struck up songs like Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast, Diamond in the Rough, and Hellfire.

Airbourne frontman Joel O'Keeffe roams the crowd

With a limited viewpoint at the back near the bar, I was late to detect the commotion in the area of the right aisle, and initially assumed – as did many around me, I’m sure – that there was some kind of crowd trouble going on. It turned out to be the front man roaming the crowd, punctuating the trip by striking out power chords. He worked his way by our place in the crowd via the top of the main bar, before descending back down into the throng and working his way down the left channel back toward the stage.

In the event this was a quality crowd warmer – as was his feat of climbing the stage-left bank of speakers to take a precarious vantage point for the remainder of that particular song. Thrashing lead guitar from atop three stories of Marshall’s?

Well, this was unashamed Rock ‘n’ Roll after all.

With a somewhat limited back-catalogue, it became clear that the aforementioned Runnin’ Wild was being saved for the encore, along with their debut album opener Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and Airbourne didn’t disappoint when the time came. Runnin’ Wild is just about the perfect closer – the band know they’ve got canned adrenalin with that track and picked the perfect time to unleash it, with the crowd participation reaching a crescendo.

Finishing the night with some flag waving and Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll, Airbourne demonstrated that they can deliver on the premise of their albums with a rousing live performance that was more than worth the £15 face value of the tickets. To that end, it’s hard to complain, but today my ringing ears would maybe have appreciated hearing a little more music and a little less noise.