Updated: Jul 5
Broken, bruised and battered, I drag myself towards the venue’s exit out into the cool night air, hair soaked and matted, makeup running down my face, and my new Airbourne t-shirt drenched. This wasn’t sweat, oh no. This was 5 litres of Stella Artois spewed over the crowd like Sunday mornings hangover. Everyone’s rowdy, everyone’s smashed, everyone’s here to do one thing and one thing only; rock and roll! This was no man’s land, and out here, it was every man for himself.
With the recent release of their fourth studio album, ‘Breakin’ Outta Hell,’ the bad boys of rock have come back with a much anticipated European Airbourne tour. Their most recent tour date, a second night in London, was nothing shy of a hectic war zone and I found myself in the second row of Camden’s Electric Ballroom, eagerly waiting about to experience my first ever Airbourne gig. With the first two hours of the double opening act being the calm before the storm, Joel, Ryan, David and Justin entered the room and all of a sudden the whole crowd surged toward the front barriers and I was forced closer to people than anyone would deem comfortable. The smoke rose from the stage, the lights beamed brighter than the sun, Airbourne kicked in with ‘Ready to Rock’ and the race to the finish line was on.
The 5th song of the night was the aptly named ‘Rivalry,’ there was pushing, there was shoving and 3 people had already been taken out of the crowd due to wreaking havoc; Airbourne’s signature energy and free for all attitude echoed within all our souls. One song that brought everyone together for a brief second at the most was ‘It’s All for Rock and Roll,’ which Joel O’Keeffe proceeded to explain the great lengths friend and co-worker Lemmy Kilmister went to to get Airbourne on tour with Motorhead before his devastating passing.
There’s no doubt Airbourne live up to their insane, manic and psychotic image, as every so often, front man O’Keeffe would smash a cider can repeatedly against his head until it exploded all over the crowd. It was most definitely a sight to behold. They weren’t lying when they said, ‘We’re Airbourne from Australia and we’re here to play some rock and roll for ya and give ya some beer!” It was full throttle from the get go and there were no signs of it slowing down. Airbourne are a quartet of tireless performers yet they don’t fail to prove they’re talented musicians simultaneously. It’s one thing to play guitar, it’s another thing to sing while playing guitar and it’s an entirely different thing to sing and play guitar almost perfectly while crowd surfing over a sea of frenzied fans.
The encore included two songs, ‘Live It Up’ and ‘Runnin’ Wild.’ The siren opening to ‘Live It Up’ resonated throughout the venue, the only time we saw drummer Ryan O’Keeffe come out from behind his kit to wind up an old fashion air raid siren that sent everyone into hysteria. Next to me was an elderly classic rocker that clearly wasn’t used to the violent moshing, yet was still trying his best to enjoy the music and take it in his stride. Noticing this, Joel jumped into the trench between the stage and barriers, stuck his head into the crowd directly at the man stood beside me, no more than 30cm away from my face, and began to shatter yet another cider can, resulting in an tsunami of sticky fluid cascading upon myself and the fellow rockers surrounding me.
Overall nothing could have prepared me for my first Airbourne gig, although it was certainly worth it leaving with my legs shaking, my ears ringing and my arms aching due to having my devil horns up the entire show. After getting through the initial shock and blow of the madness, it’s just all an uphill experience once the adrenaline kicks in. An Airbourne gig is not for the faint hearted.