A band whose influence is metaphorically tattooed on every inch of their bodies, Airbourne’s worship at the throne of AC/DC is as subtle as a collapsing tower, and can arguably be a resounded turn on, or in a 360 degrees’ stark contrast, smashes into smithereens all ethical codes of plagiarism in one swift strummed power chord. While this reviewer generally veers to the latter there is enough intrigue mustered to attend with open ears and eyes for the full blown live experience. So, will this have any bearing on well-established opinions as to whether they are embarrassing clones or instead worthy flag bearers to the rock ‘n’ roll cause?
But first, support on the UK leg of the tour is supplied by sci-fi, funky, hefty riffing, hard rockin’ fanatics Crobot. Generously given a 45 minutes’ time slot and a good sound (Airbourne seemingly following their hero’s Motörhead good natured leg up to emerging bands) they appear on stage to Thomas Dolby’s ‘Hot sauce’. Then proceed to kick start an evenly mixed selection of tracks from their hitherto two records. Their virtually constant touring unsurprisingly has built them into one of the tightest units in the classic rock influenced acts currently in circulation. With bundles of high powered vibes, they quite literally punch, high kick, leap of equipment at every opportunity and possess huge amounts of self-belief.
And with good reason, as their mix of Rage Against The Machine’s powerful jab, Aerosmith’s 1970’s era groove and swagger, Soundgarden’s guitar squealing heroics, and Guns ‘n’ Roses ear for a good tune, converge into a band revelling in their carefully stirred blend to overtly show signs of creating something of all of their own special spicy sauce.
No room for subtleties, Airbourne rush onto stage proudly proclaiming their motto ‘’Shut the world off, turn the rock ‘n’ roll up’’, with uncomplicated heads down AC/DC styled rock. They capture the robust, tough as old boots elements of the Bon Scott era and the rebel rousing wild boys Rose Tattoo. Their hearts and spirit are clearly in the right place and there is no doubt at their best (‘Diamond In The Rough’, ‘Rivalry’, ‘No Way But The Hard Way’, ‘Chewin’ The Fat’) they create an energetic vibe and irresistible booze soaked rock. On the other side of beer barrel, there are times when the unashamed dumb fun is just too pastiche, predictable, and substandard (‘Down On You’, ‘Ready To Rock’, ‘Hellfire’, ‘It’s All For Rock ‘n’ Roll’).
There is a self-awareness of their own limitations as they avoid attempting longer ‘Let There Be Rock’ styled epics. And it is fair to say everybody who is an Airbourne fan obviously adores the originators, as much as the band themselves. It is therefore, a love-in of sorts between the band, shared heroes, and the audience, who sing along joyously and quite frankly display a couldn’t care less attitude about the Angus and co imitators or prophets debate.
The verdict for this reviewer is, as a converter to becoming a fully paid up member to the Airbourne club would be a wild exaggeration. However, if one is able drop the aforementioned misgivings, they are in short bursts, an enjoyable no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll live band, and ideally assembled for any potential all-day drinking, hard rock festival.