Pictorial: Airbourne at Manchester Apollo

Posted on 6 April 2010
By Danny Keightley and Sakura
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It’s a difficult task to support a band as renowned for their performance as Airbourne; but Las Vegas lads Taking Dawn seem to do a great job, pulling the punters from the bar and whetting the Apollo’s advertent crowd’s appetite with hard-hitting riffage and boyish choruses; they prove a hard act to follow despite the sound problems that mouthy vocalist/guitarist Chris Babbitt experiences about midway through their set.

So, after an awkward 5 minutes in which the crowd begs for a drum solo (never heard that before) whilst bassist Babbitt fiddles around backstage with his guitar, all seems to be going awry until he pounces back on stage denouncing his hate for the ‘cocksuckers’ who’ve ruined his night, riling sympathy from the audience before bursting into Scuzz chart-topper Time To Burn.

Next up are quintet Black Spiders; a bunch of aging and fully bearded rockers who, as well as having a bass player who looks the spitting image of the Cowardly Lion, they also feature the most manic percussionist we’ve ever seen. His arms thrash as if they’re being conducted by a puppet master, as his mouth remains open projecting wide-eyed stares towards the front row as if to curse us all for eternity or something.

They’re musically nothing much to write home about. Their three guitarists ultimately cancel each other out into a conglomerate of toppy Daron Malakian-eqsque tones. Vocalist/guitarist Pete Spiby has a wonderfully alcohol socked rock ‘n’ roll voice, though — actually too close to breaking completely on any of the 5 occasions he screams ‘Maaaancheessstterrrr!’ to a crowd probably thinking ‘Come on, get on with it!’ too. At the end of the set, they all look absolutely shagged out, and end on a whimper instead of a bang.

As they say, though: old rockers never die…they just fade away (with their leather pants.) Shudder.

Aussie rockers Airbourne have never been about subtlety — after a brief sound-test, they literally explode onto a stage to the Terminator intro with a backdrop consisting of twelve stacked Marshall amps. Most people have tissue stuffed into their ears to stop them being raped by Airbourne’s mighty, loud-as-fuck sound.

There are about two women for every two hundred men tonight, and Joel knows it. Between the furious Hellfire and Chewin’ The Fat, he shrieks ‘It’s all about the pussy!’ whilst raising his hands to form a diamond with his fingers to be greeted with a manly roar of approval. Hooray for the sausage party.

Shirtless frontman Joel O Keefe catapults himself around the stage whilst his bandmates pose like rock-gods in the background. As they launch into first song Raise The Flag, a half-naked baldy dad near me tries not to lose his son in the cataclysm of prancing sweaty men; bassist, Justin Street goes flying as he skips across the stage as the front rows become a clusterfuck of rocker dads in touch with the true, kindred, rock ‘n’ roll spirit. Bless.

Now, you’d be dead wrong to ever criticise Airbourne for ripping off their respective elders — you’ll be hard-pressed to find a decent rock band that inject as much enthusiasm into a gig as these four Aussie blokes do.

During Girls In Black, Joel leaps into the front-row before racing offstage and appearing atop of the mixing desk soloing Angus Young stylee. He reappears some 20 seconds later on top of the balcony, dangling his guitar over the edge before running through the seated crowd, only to emerge back on stage to continue belting out the chest-beating chorus at the top of his voice.


A fifteen song set comes to close with the tremendous, and appropriately titled Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll, as all collective rockers unite in their red-faced, primitive, legless, fist pumping glory. We love it.

Photography by Sakura: http://www.rockphotographer.net/

Airbourne’s website: www.airbournerock.com
Myspace: www.myspace.com/airbourne