Artists: Airbourne, Black Spiders
Venue: Leeds O2 Academy
Review by: Nick Lavigueur
I KNOW why Airbourne singer Joel O'Keeffe never wears a shirt on stage – his laundry bills would be massive.
Rocking the socks off hundreds of baying fans on a nightly basis is a sweaty business and O'Keeffe doesn't hold back. And if spraying sweat and water everywhere wasn't enough, smashing full beer cans against your head and spurting foaming ale across the stage makes for one sticky shirt.
Luckily O'Keeffe has got the abs to pull the shirtless look off – and it's no surprise considering how much energy he and his bandmates put into their set. Brother Ryan O'Keeffe's drums are set well back to let the trio of axemen run about 1980s style; and boy do they make use of the space.
The raucous frontman always has at least one of his spare limbs thrashing about and the expanses of Leeds’ cavernous Academy were used to their fullest. At one musical interlude the wavy haired Aussie disappeared back stage only to reappear clambering across punters in the lofty balcony seats before hanging his guitar over the balcony for some more wild thrashing.
But what about the music I hear you ask? Well Airbourne have been dubbed party rock ‘n’ roll and guitarist Roadsy told Fresh last month that they had no intention of changing their sound.
Airbourne have humble rural outback pub rock roots but you can't imagine this high speed rock riot in a country boozer, it's too big, it's designed for stadiums.
There's no subtleties here, no fancy keyboards or DJs, just matching Gibson Thunderbirds and plenty of headbanging as the four piece blitz through a 90 minute balls out, fist pumping, rock ‘n’ roll journey. There's only one brief break where O'Keeffe encourages as many people to get on someone's shoulders as possible, a cool trick and one I hadn't seen before.
Sensibly the best two songs are kept for near the end of the set and even though bare-chested punters have been crowdsurfing since the first song, the moshpit frenzy holds up as Runnin Wild and Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast provide a frenzied end to the night.
For nostalgia fans Airbourne certainly hark back to the halcyon days of Monsters of Rock. So after seeing the band close their set with what could be described as their modus operandi, Stand Up For Rock n Roll, I would wager a hefty sum they'll be welcomed with open arms at the home of rock when they play Download Festival this spring.
Earlier, British hard rock five piece Black Spiders got the crowd nicely warmed up with their soaring lead guitar breaks and back arching screechy vocals. The beard heavy band rip through a five-song set with the confidence of a band that are headlining their own UK wide tour once they're done here.