Aussie wrecking crew Airbourne will headline Hard Rock Hell XI in 2017. We sent HRH Mag‘s Simon Rushworth out on the road to see what all the fuss is about.
Is there a more relentless hour in rock and roll than the first 60 minutes of an Airbourne show? Renowned for their rabid commitment to the live music cause, the feisty Aussies could be forgiven for slowing down almost a decade after balls-to-the-wall debut Runnin’ Wild breathed new life into a croaking genre. However, the adrenaline-fuelled quartet are faster and more furious than ever – and still steadfastly refusing to reinvent the wheel.
There are many, many bands who make more cerebral music. Many acts who pepper their trademark tunes with opaque lyrics and meandering solos. And many musicians who would mock Airbourne’s simplistic approach to AC/DC-styled entertainment. But few come close to matching Melbourne’s finest in terms of energy, attitude and addictive positivity.
Most – if not all – of what you see at an Airbourne show has been done before. The riffs have been rearranged and the words might have changed but this is, in essence, a throwback to when Bon Scott and Angus Young injected the X-Factor into DIY rock. And as a result it’s the most reassuring live show you’ll see all year.
There’s no posturing, no pretence and no sense of ego-fuelled self-importance. Airbourne’s mantra is simple: play with passion and play to win. A packed house suggested the fans are with them every step of the way – there were no dissenting voices as frontman Joel O’Keeffe ripped through a back catalogue that now includes the typically brash Breakin’ Outta Hell. The band’s new album is much the same as the previous three: familiar themes include drinking, fighting and partying (often concurrently) and it does the same job in terms of tearing a strip off the opposition.
Those new to Airbourne may be surprised that bands like this still exist. Even more surprising, maybe, is that an act built on little more than a blind devotion to riff-fuelled mayhem can comfortably sell out Newcastle’s O2 Academy. However, there’s no substitute for intoxicating rock and roll in its rawest form: the only criticism is that O’Keeffe and co. could have stretched out the main set for a few more minutes. This gig could have been longer but it couldn’t have been louder. And for Airbourne that’s the ultimate compliment.
Airbourne will play Hard Rock Hell XI…Knights Of The Dark Order from November 9-12, 2017.