Openers Devilskin travelled all the way from Hamilton, New Zealand for this Limelight1 show on Wednesday, 7th June. There was no sign of jet lag when they took to the stage - and a palpable buzz of excitement.
We all know the score for support bands, with the majority of the audience awaiting the headliners supping the adjacent bar. Definitely not the case for Devilskin.
Combining a hard rocking edge with meticulous metal this was a rock Haka - in your face, a challenge delivered with passion and panache. Jennie may be the focus, her voice and confidence, hitting like a lemon wrapped around a brick.
However, it is the entire band that fizzlers with energy, a unit that draws attention. Tony (Nail) has a guitar growls with menace, while the father/son rhythm section of Paul and Nic lay down a monstrous powerhouse demonstration of metal.
They promise to return soon - they will be afforded a warm welcome.
For Devilskin this was a warm-up for Download, as it was for Airbourne. An opportunity to play in Belfast (and Dublin) to knock the set into shape. Not that Airbourne need much of their set and playing shaping up. They are now almost veterans.
Having been faithful to Belfast since their earliest tours in Europe the four-piece are familiar to the audience. Also, having been here so many times the songs - even the newer ones such as the title track of 'Breakin' Outta Hell', 'Rivalry' and album closer 'It's All for Rock n Roll'.
Of course Joel is a bundle of energy as always, on and off-stage tomfoolery with walkabouts, idiocy with cans etc etc. All very entertaining whether you have seen it before or not. Airbourne understand that live it is a stage show as well as guitar laden rifftastic fun.
All would be for nowt if the music wasn't strong enough. Crowd pleasers such as 'Too Much...', 'No Way But The Hard Way', 'Cheap Wine' and 'Girls In Black' raise the roof, but the encore packs a solid one-two punch in the shape of 'Live It Up' and 'Runnin' Wild'.
A tight, compact set is slightly shorter than some previous shows by the Aussie rockers with a total of 12 songs aired, this was clearly the set they anticipate forming the largest part of their Download show.
It was also the Belfast début of Harri Harrison, after David Rhoads left the band to work in the family business. Harrison looks comfortable on rhythm guitar and moves forward to the mics with Justin in synchronicity for the choruses.
This was, as always an accomplished performance from Airbourne, pleasing the beer-fuelled audience, but it was also a night to experience the latest Antipodean challenge. Did Devilskin blow Airbourne off the stage? Not quite, but damn close.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh