August 12, 2010
By Donna Mair
Hearing Airbourne on the radio may familiarize you with the songs, but it does nothing to prepare you for the onslaught of adrenaline that will be jamming it’s way through your entire being the 1st (and I suspect 4th, 15th, and even 100th) time you see them live.
The four man dynamo started about 10 minutes late amid chants from the crowd; one of the band techs started chanting to the audience and encouraging a response back while testing the mics for sound levels, rather than putting us through the standard monotonous “check, check… check.” Novel idea for warming us up prior to the assault on our senses. Within seconds of this happening the vibe in the room was stronger than it had been mere minutes ago, and the security personnel in the ‘pit’ gave us last minute instructions on what to do if bodies started coming over the fencing.
The band literally jumped on-stage faster than any band I’ve ever experienced, finding their way to their instruments in the near dark, and suddenly the lights blazed up and it was in your face for the remainder of the night. As I eagerly watched, the first body came over the rail – I was so engrossed in the spectacle that I didn’t notice until the security fellow walked the half naked 20-something guy past me in a rush. The band didn’t let it bother them one bit, in fact, I’m sure they quite expected it if the smile on front man Joel O’Keefe’s face was any indication.
The roar of the crowd was no match for the band nor was the energy – guitarist David Roads and bassist Justin Street never stood still for one second (nor did J O’Keefe), switching places back and forth from one side of the stage to the other, ensuring that fans on both sides of the stage got to watch them in action. Only drummer Ryan O’Keefe was locked into place, but even he seemed about to be ‘air born’ as he hammered on the kit. At one point, an empty drink glass made its way to the stage, narrowly missing one of the band but it just got kicked off to the side without a thought.
Three more bodies came flying over the security fence and as I leaned over to the stage to avoid being squished I was almost run over by O’Keefe who was charging up and down the length of the stage on the very edge… and leaning into the audience while doing it! The crowd went wild of course and the band loved it. The crowd may have been rough and somewhat inebriated but it was blatantly obvious that the admiration was a two way flow and it was all in good fun.
Thanks to tonight, I now know what it might have been like at one of the early AC/DC concerts fronted by the late great Bon Scott – the only thing missing was a kilt and bagpipes. Airbourne’s new album No Guts, No Glory isn’t really a tribute to AC/DC – its a re-invention of AC/DC. And I can say I was there when they toured for their second album.
My first Airbourne concert was much like being a newbie at an underground ritual. They only difference was that no chickens were harmed as the band worked its way through their two albums.