Airbourne and the Barrowlands are a match made somewhere other than heaven. No frills, balls-to-the-walls, good time rock n’ roll played to the max in one of the most atmospheric and infamous venues around. Sure, it’s seen better days, but if you are ever looking to get to a gig away from your normal venue, then I’d urge you to give the ‘Barras a try. On a night like this, it simply cannot be beaten.
The Franklys were a bit of an odd choice to open up the show, full throttle Aussie rock n’ roll, the salacious crushing funk of Crobot and garage indie/rock from the half Swedish-half English quartet. The girls make one hell of a racket on stage. It’s loud, fast, and brash. Comparisons to bands like The Hives are easily made and give you an indication of what to expect. Early doors meant that The Franklys played their short set to a sparsely filled hall, but those in attendance were respectful enough to listen, pay attention, and make some noise in between songs. New Single, ‘Castaway’ is picking up some airplay on BBC Radio 6, and with it’s spiky infusion of The Stooges, The Runaways, and X-Ray Spex, it succeeded in getting some punters away from the bar.
Crobot strolled on like the smooth operators that they are. This is 2016 Crobot, with the pimped-up funk yakked up to the eyeballs. The same crunch that made debut album ‘Something Supernatural’ such a memorable album is still there two years later, but with added groove. Guitarist Chris Bishop is like a metalized Clark Kent, mild mannered until the last minute, when he takes his glasses off and carefully places them on a flight case. His alter ego is a guitar-swinging, foot-stomping, headbanging loon, with the restraints removed. Crobot stormed their way through ‘Legend Of The Spaceborne Killer’ before the killer knockout one-two of ‘Not For Sale’ and ‘Easy Money’ from latest album ‘Welcome To Fat City’. Vocalist Brandon Yeagley continues to prove that he is one of the shining lights amongst the new breed of frontmen currently treading the boards. His elasticated legs made him seem ten feet tall. The Figueroa brothers, drummer Paul, and the baddest of badass bassists – Jake, were in charge of bringing the funk, and bring it they indeed did. Favourites like ‘Skull Of Geronimo’ and ‘La Mano De Lucifer’ sat alongside new gems such as ‘Hold On For Dear Life’ and ‘Plague Of The Mammoths’ to form a killer set that saw the band purring like a finely tuned engine.
Airbourne are back where they belong, on stage in front of a fired up, boisterous crowd, ready for a rumble. At times, the atmosphere threatened to boil over and security were forced to go into the crowd on a few occasions to intervene. With Airbourne, you know exactly what you are going to get. Detractors, perhaps, need to remember what rock n’ roll is all about – having a good time. Yes, the songs are basic, but who really cares, when you have songs such as ‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’ and ‘No Way But The Hard Way’ in your arsenal?
It’s a big production. There’s a wall of Marshall cabs, massive backdrop, and enough glaring spotlights to light up a small town for a year. Joel O’Keeffe was his usual frantic self, as he covered every inch of the stage, and on one occasion, above the stage. If you’ve ever caught the band live then you’ll know that O’Keeffe has a knack of smashing full beer cans off his head before sending them into the crowd. It’s incredible to watch, as he brings out a beer cooler and empties it out, sending cans arcing skywards into the baying crowd. You’ll also know that he likes a wander, and it was no surprise when he went through the crowd on a bouncer’s shoulders, with his trademark white Explorer wailing away. He was clearly having a blast out there amongst his people, and the bouncer charged with looking after him looked shattered once he was finally back behind the barrier. O’Keeffe even took time out to thank the Barrowlands security for looking after the crowd, especially the numerous crowd surfers who came barrelling over the barrier.
New album, ‘Breakin’ Outta Hell’ was well represented on the night, with the foot-stomping ‘Rivalry’ being a real stand out that got the blood pumping. The title track, and ‘Down On You’, followed, with the band going full pelt, but the standout moment was the heartfelt tribute to Lemmy, ‘It’s All For Rock N’ Roll’. Before the band launched into it, O’Keeffe recalled when Lemmy appeared in the video for ‘Runnin’ Wild’. All he wanted as payment was “two bottles of Jack, and two packets of salt and vinegar crisps!”. The encore of ‘Live It Up’, and what else but ‘Runnin’ Wild’, began with drummer Ryan O’Keeffe cranking up a World War II air raid siren, which, believe me, takes some doing. It was a cue for all hell to break loose, as the crowd did indeed go wild. Joel was back in amongst the crowd at the barriers, and in doing so gave the security a few scares. As the last few notes rung out, the band soaked up the applause. As the crowd file out into the cold winter’s night, there’s nothing like a wee dram of Aussie rock n’ roll to provide some warmth.