Pick Your Rock and Metal

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The end of cynicism?

AFTER you’ve seen hundreds of concerts, listened to thousands of hard rock and heavy metal tracks it is easy to be cynical. As that American soft rock singer John Cougar Mellancamp said: “It’s just the same few chords in a different order.”

And, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that a feeling lingered the same old chords would doom Aussie rockers Airbuorne to a cliché ridden set, when they debuted in Belfast last night.

Given that their album reeked of AC/DC and Rose Tattoo influences, sometimes so clear that occasionally it seemed that the ghosts of riffs gone past were haunting the chapel of Australian production suites when the O’Keefe brothers were conceiving their plans for hard rock domination, they could have easily slipped into parody.

But, what was always the essence of DC and the Tatts was their attitude; an attitude that at one railed against the injustice of a working class life, but celebrated the sheer joy if indulging in the fun and intensity of good old fashioned hard rock.

And Airbourne set a new definition of intensity last night. Quite literally few, if any, have ever shed so much sweat or energy on a Belfast stage. As lensman Colin marvelled outside, the quantity of calories they used is mind-boggling.

From the opener of Stand Up… Airbourne dispelled the lingering suspicion that they were just another set of hard rockers recycling blues riffs in a hard rock frame.

Despite occasional sound problems – including the loss of vocals from the PA at one point - the band shredded; not in the guitar widdling indulgent solo type of shredding, but rather in straightforward high energy playing.

The entire debut album was aired, with Running Wild closing a party set. Stand-outs were many. Diamond in the Rough and Blackjack ripped through the packed Limelight, while even the mid-tempo Cheap Wine donned a new dimension live.

Too Much Too Young was just one singalong highlight, but what separates the band from the ordinary is frontman Jason O’Keefe.

Wild-eyed stares and manic movements, topped off by a walkabout mid-song, concluded with a trip to the Limelight bar for a pint before returning to the stage.

O’Keefe’s constant name checking of Belfast was a bit clichéd, but that – and sound glitches - was the only thing that marred an otherwise perfect party hard rockin’ set.

For the devoted a clear sign of a healthy future for Airbourne is that tickets for their November 11th Mandella Hall set were selling healthily at the door of the Limelight even before the Aussie quartet took to the stage. (Snap them up while you can...it 's sure to sell-out!)

Airbourne are an abject lesson to all hard rock and heavy metal bands. They understand that it is a job being on a stage, but part of that job is delivering the goods for paying customers; part of that job is giving your all for the brief moments in the spotlight; part of that job is making sure you understand how to engage and relate to your audience; but most importantly that job is to make sure you and the fans have a shed load of fun.

Cynicism may not have ended last night, but it lies in shattered remnants for the audience that stumbled into an Ormeau Avenue night, each face adorned with a shit-eating grin.

Quick word for support act The Galvetrons...dump the 80's Eddie Van Halen keyboard sound, bring the guitars up in the miz, and re-write and re-arrange all your songs...the wave of indifference that greeted you will be what you find at all venues.

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