Review: Airbourne – Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom

You know what you’re going to get when Airbourne are in town. You know it will be rowdy, you know it will be messy, it will be loud, but above all it will be great fun. An evening to leave what ails you at the door, and disengage brain for the evening.

Cellar Door Moon Crow, AirbourneYou also know with Airbourne that you will get a real value for money line-up, with a left field choice (The Franklys in 2016) thrown into the mix. This tour the band that sticks out like a spare prick at a whores wedding, are Sheffield duo Cellar Door Moon Club. On paper their hybrid sound, made up of urban/blues/rock, shouldn’t fit alongside the straight up Motorhead-fuelled Aussie Rock of the headliners. But it does. Maybe it’s the sense of danger emitting from the stage, the sense that it could all kick-off anytime, but it works, especially on the riotous ‘East to the West’.

Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, Airbourne, RockTyler Bryant and The Shakedown are up next and the night explodes with guitar fireworks right from the off. With Bryant favouring Fender and fellow six stringer Graham Whitford going with Gibbo’s, the pair cook up some hellacious licks all night long. ‘Eye To Eye’ is a particular highlight, a slow burning pressure cooker of a song which boils over with some frantic riffage from Bryant. Drummer Caleb Crosby is a mass of flailing arms and hair flicks, and proves to be a very visual performer, while bassist Noah Denney is the quiet man of the band, although he does certainly make his presence felt. ‘Ride’ is another standout moment, the thick fuzzy guitar tones from Bryant are killer, and the solo he peels off towards the end of the song has the guitar aficionados in the crowd purring with delight.

Stack of Marshalls – check, banks of blinding white lights – check, air-raid siren – check, big-ass backdrop – check, and finally; Terminator 2 intro tape – check. Yep, Airbourne are back in Glasgow and there really is only one venue fitting enough to host the Aussie mentalists – the infamous Barrowland Ballroom.

Opening track ‘Raise The Flag’ see’s Joel O’Keefe cover more miles in the opening few bars than most bands do in an entire evening. The first gig that he plays at a sedate pace will no doubt also be his last, as the only way to slow him down is to take him out, permanently. From here it’s into the rabble-rousing anthem ‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’, the ultimate cautionary tale that doesn’t apply to Airbourne because as far as they are concerned, you can never go too fast.

‘Girls In Black’ has O’Keefe declaring “I’m coming out to see ya!”, and that’s exactly what he does. Straight off stage, onto someone’s shoulders and parts the Weegie Sea as he goes from one side to the other, all the while cranking out the chords to The Stones’ classic ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’. Even though you know that it’s coming, it’s still a huge thrill when it does, the same with the beer cans getting battered off of his head, and the pints arcing through the air, which some even find their targets!

AirbourneThese guys have been coming to this venue for years now and are perfectly suited to each other, both are loud, sticky and dangerous. They also know their local produce and throw in a few product placements for Irn Bru and Tunnocks Teacakes, Joel O’Keefe even jokes that they’ve played more shows in Scotland than they have in Australia! After a rant at the Westminster government, the frontman breaks into a few bars of ‘Scotland The Brave’ before commanding the crowd to sit down on the floor. You’ve never seen an audience looking as worried as those packed into The ‘Barras once they realised that not only had they to get down, but they had to indeed get back up again. Judging by the groans, not an easy task, especially since in this venue you need to march on the spot to stop sticking to the floor.

Airbourne have their detractors, but they are not attempting to reinvent the wheel, and they are not attempting to reinvent the genre for modern day sensibilities. They sing about boozing, fighting, rocking, and rutting (but not always in that order) and they do it very well. Same time in 2021 fellas?

Review and images – Callum Scott 

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