At O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., November 23, 2016

AIRBOURNE (Live at O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., November 23, 2016)
Photo: Mick Burgess

With a metropolis of Marshall stacks towering across the rear of the stage broken only by an equally imposing drum riser, it was clear that this was no show for the feint hearted.

Since they burst out of their Australian homeland with 2007’s Runnin’ Wild, Airbourne have been a fresh breath of air injecting an energy and genuine passion into a scene that at times takes its self a little too seriously.

There must be something in the water down there as Australia has the knack of knocking out no frills, heads down Rock ‘n’ Roll bands from AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Cold Chisel and not forgetting Radio Birdman. Airbourne are the latest in a long line to bring that energetic, no messing approach to Rock to these shores.

There’s a certain theme running through their music and Ready To Rock, It’s All For Rock n’ Roll, Stand Up For Rock n’ Roll need no explanation. They do exactly as they say on the tin.

Lead singer/lead guitarist Joel O’Keeffe was an absolute whirlwind on stage. He never stopped for from start to finish while his drummer brother Ryan along with David Rhodes and Justin Street laid down the heavy weight foundation on which everything was based.

By the third song, Chewin’ The Fat, O’Keeffe was starting to get a touch thirsty so cracked open a can of beer on his head, shook it up and Formula 1 style shared his drink with a sweat and now beer soaked crowd.

In keeping with their plain talking approach Girls In Black was introduced as a song about girls that wear black. No Bono style embellishments needed here. O’Keeffe was then hoisted onto a roadies shoulders for a walk about in the crowd just in time to deliver a screaming solo from the bar of the Academy.

It’s supposed to be fast, loud and sweaty. Airbourne were all this and more. This was one exhilarating show of pedal to the metal full throttle Rock ‘ Roll that left the band and crowd exhausted but totally fulfilled by the time Runnin’ Wild had rampaged into the night.

Often hailed as the young pretenders to fellow Aussie’s AC/DC’s throne, the time for Airbourne to step up and take the crown may now have arrived with the imminent retirement of the titans from Down Under and who better to continue the rich lineage held for so long by AC/DC than Airbourne? All hail the new Kings of Aussie Rock’n’Roll.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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