Airbourne/Stone Gods/Sound & Fury
Bristol Carling Academy 2nd November 2008
Just eight months ago I was watching this hotly tipped Australian band called Airbourne in a pub with about 150 other people, all going mental (although not as mental as the band on the tiny stage). I described the band as “ a band that will be hitting the rock world like a nuclear bomb”, and walking into the Bristol Academy tonight I have the strangest feeling that I might have underestimated them.
The crowd is mixed, to say the least. Like their illustrious predecessors AC/DC, Airbourne have managed to gather followers from all over the rock spectrum, as evidenced by the multitude of different band t-shirts on display. As for the followers themselves, there’s loads of them, ramming the venue like they did when Dio played last year. There’s only one Rock & Roll Train in 2008, and it’s Airbourne in the driving seat.
First up we get the pleasure of Canadian’s Sound & Fury (first pic above). Straight from the off they come across as a quite wonderful mixture of AC/DC and The Sex Pistols, with each band member stylistically removed from the others to create a real “Fuck you” vibe. They certainly look good, and the music lives up to their name, so it’s a shame that the sound engineer has seen fit to totally drown the vocals in the mix. The result is a short set that tantalises but can’t come through on it’s promises, and I hope I get another chance to see them when there’s a better mix.
It’s no surprise that there’s 3 bands on tonight, as support act Stone Gods (second and third pic above) and Airbourne both have only one album each and don’t do covers. It’s a fair bet that both will play their entire albums, and Stone Gods don’t fail to deliver the requisite set list. There’s a fair few people decked out in their t-shirts (which are as crappy as the ones on their last tour), and for the most part their eclectic songs get a very good response. Frontman Richie manages to tick the “witty crowd banter” box quite well, and the band rock up a storm despite being denied any decent lighting. Again, the vocal level is a problem, but it’s an improvement on the first band. It’s the first time I’ve seen them since the album was released, and it’s great to hear it all live and knowing when to sing along. The band are tight and exciting, and with any luck will stay together to become a force in the UK rock scene.
Like many of you, I’ve heard and enjoyed the recent AC/DC album, but it really does pale beside Airbourne’s debut, still getting regular airtime on my iPod. They hit the stage with a bang, tear through the album and fuck off to rousing applause. There’s a new track, “Dirty Angel”, that shows that they ain’t gonna fix what ain’t broke, and the mosh pit swells and flows like a science experiment gone horribly wrong. The sound is improved on the previous bands, with Mr O’Keefe coming through loud if not clear. The reason for the second is that it’s hard to understand a word he’s saying, and his stage banter is limited to squawking something half intelligible at the crowd whilst they cheer in encouragement. There’s not much to say about an Airbourne gig, except that it’s exactly what it should be, akin to seeing AC/DC at their Bon Scott peak. Joel O’Keefe even did his trick of getting a beer from the bar whilst playing a guitar solo, which was quite a feat in the rammed solid venue as the bar was at the back! It’s rock and roll for the huddled masses, all power chords and catchy choruses about booze and sex, and my god we love it.
Review and photos by Alan Holloway, alan "at" rockunited.com
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