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Airbourne - O2 Academy, Bristol - December 10 2013 (Live Review)

Thursday, 12 December 2013 Written by Jon Stickler

Hauling big riffs, soaring leads and howling vocals, Aussie rockers Airbourne touched down at Bristol's O2 Academy, bringing with them Cambridge rockers the Treatment and riff monsters Orange Goblin, and promptly left a packed room hoping that their hearing would get back to normal before Christmas.

The Treatment kicked up a storm with a selection of songs that should grab the attention of any Aerosmith or Guns N' Roses fan, but, while they're firing on all cylinders, as the first band on and with the venue still filling up their efforts were slightly in vain. Look out for their headline tour in February next year.

Led by the towering Ben Ward, hardened metal veterans Orange Goblin shook a few more spines with a thundering set cherry picked to perfectly pave the way for the main act.

A short, sharp blast through their back catalogue quickly led to headbanging and horn throwing and they capped a 40-minute set with the awesome Red Tide Rising, from their 2012 album 'A Eulogy for the Damned'.

As anyone who's ever seen Airbourne, either at festivals or in smaller venues, knows, their commitment to not messing about has propelled their music onto the playlists of a new generation of metalheads.

Just as their parents listened to 'Let There Be Rock', 'Highway To Hell' and 'Back In Black', they have turned to Airbourne to keep the beacon of hard rock music well and truly alight. If it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?

Just how vocalist and lead guitarist Joel O'Keeffe, sticksmith brother Ryan, guitarist David Roads and bassist Justin Street manage to keep this kind of intensity up gig after gig is a mystery, but they do. Their energy turns their crowds into a feverish mob, all hair and devil horns.

Appropriately kicking off with Ready To Rock, it took just three songs for Joel to take a lap around the packed venue aloft a guitar tech's shoulders, for Girls In Black, much to the dismay of the crowd security team. Airbourne favourites Too Much Too Young Too Fast, Chewin' the Fat, Diamond In The Rough and Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women soared from a backline of no fewer than 20 Marshall amps, while the security team earned their money as crowdsurfers threw themselves up and over the top for Back In The Game and Hungry.

The pace was relentless and Joel was everything you would want from a rock 'n' roll frontman. Barely putting a foot wrong throughout the night, he was even brave enough to antagonise the crowd about the cricket. Throughout the set he paused to bust open a few cans of Red Stripe with his head, inevitably soaking the majority of the first three rows in beer. But, as security continued to shit themselves, nobody expected him to launch a couple of opened cans across the venue for those watching from the upper levels.

Drawing the main set to a close, Blonde Bad And Beautiful and No Way But The Hard Way teed things up perfectly for the charged 'Running Wild' anthem Stand Up For Rock 'n' Roll. Joel mingled with the masses once again during Raise The Flag, the second track of the encore, this time clambering to the very top level of the auditorium. Signature track Running Wild then brought a close to a blistering show. To borrow a phrase written in the dust gathered on the band's tour bus: “The bastard sons of Bon Scott – fucking love it!”

For a full gallery, courtesy of Tallboy Images, click here.

Airbourne UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Fri December 13 2013 - LONDON The Forum

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