Airbourne/Skirtbox Live @ Louisiana, Bristol (UK) - February 2008

To not have heard about Australia's new glory boys "Airbourne" within the last month, must make you a possible candidate for musical hermit of the year. The buzz surrounding these guys is so huge that the 100 maximum capacity "Louisiana" is sold out twice over. Those lucky enough to be crammed into this tiny venue are also unlucky enough to be subject to the ultimate irony of watching the worlds brightest barroom boogie merchants without actually being able to get anywhere near the bar… Ooooooo.

UK rockers "Skirtbox" must be pinching themselves; the one-time punkers have now gone all classic metal and are playing nationally to a capacity and perfectly demo graphed audience for their trad melodic formula. Not too dissimilar to Sweden's "Crazy Lixx", "Skirtbox" are rooted firmly in late 80's big chorus anthems that the Louisiana's "Mick Miller" look-alike convention (Google it) simply lapped up.

"Airbourne" on the other hand ply the filthiest of rock n' roll wares. For those who haven't heard their recent debut platter "Running Wild", imagine "Rose Tattoo" meets "Johnny Crash" at a "Krokus" convention and you won't be a million miles away from the sound that's driving most trad rockers to work every day. If you have to think "AC/DC" it's "Flick of the Switch" rather than "Dirty Deeds" for sure. But it's the songs from said debut that make this one of the most special nights of pure metal majesty that I've not witnessed the like of since "KK Downing" and "Glenn Tipton" rose from the stage as if by magic during the "Judas Priest, Point of Entry" tour of 1981.

The likes of "Girls in Black" and "Heartbreaker" would have anyone from Emo to Emu (even without "Rod Hull") strutting their stuff. This is real music played with such gusto and aplomb that you can't help but smile from ear to ear whilst punching the air like "Rocky Balboa" on a set of New York steps, to soon to be classics like "Blackjack" and "Stand Up For Rock n' Roll". During set closer "Running Wild", guitarist/singer "Joel O'Keeffe" launches his squeaky between song diatribes into the feel good anthem of 2008 and the whole fucking place erupts in a sea of stone wash denim and bad haircuts. I can only imagine this is what those first UK gigs for AC/DC must have been like at that small Hammersmith pub in the late 70's.

If "Airbourne" are given the time to develop they will be true saviours of real rock n' roll. If they explode a/la "the Darkness" then they run the risk of simply being overlooked as merely imitators, albeit with a singer who is a dead ringer of "Lips" from "Anvil". I hope that not unlike a fine wine, "Airbourne" will be able to mature in a pub near you and me soon.

by Johnny H.

Visit the Airbourne Website

Visit the Skirtbox Website