The blazing Australian quartet known as Airbourne came over to the cold north end of Europe twice this year. Their second show in Helsinki on November 13th was meant to leave Finns absolutely thunderstruck one last time before the country goes into winter hibernation. The band is loved and welcomed here because Airbourne has brought the “rock” back into “rock ’n’ roll.” While this genre hasn’t produced much of anything new and significant in the last decade, these four Aussies kicked the door open and stormed in like a whirlwind, making it clear that ever since AC/DC, people from Down Under still know how to rock.
Airbourne pounced on stage at Kaapelitehdas (the Cable Factory) and kicked off their show with “Raise the Flag.” Instantly, the audience got their hands up and started to rock out. That was a stupefying reaction to see from the usually stiff and motionless Finnish audience. It’s a great test for many bands – if you can rile up the Finns, you must be good, no doubt!
Meanwhile, the band took no time to breathe and continued to wind up the crowd: “Hellfire,” “Chewin’ the Fat,” and “Diamond in the Rough” followed. Prior to “Diamond in the Rough,” Joel O’Keefe gave a few supposedly spirit-stirring shout-outs about getting some Finnish pussy, and, unsurprisingly, got cheers mostly from the male part of the audience, who in return repeatedly threw up the “diamond hand” signs during the song.
Joel, the band’s intrepid vocalist, is known for his crazy and dangerous stage stunts. Luckily, this time there was nothing high enough for him to climb, so he just kept on running around the stage, breaking tin cans with his hands and throwing them in the audience. When you thought that was all he could do that night, he sat down on the shoulders of one of the guards and rode like that through the crowd, while playing guitar on “Girls in Black.” People took out their phones trying to catch the unexpected moment on cameras, so I am sure you will be able to find videos of that on YouTube in the near future.
As brilliant as Airbourne are on the records, their live show is an absolute must-see. The band fully commits to every moment of their performance, leaving you covered head to toe with the most unadulterated rock ’n’ roll to ever appear in the XXI century. Their energy level goes through the roof and they don’t need huge stage sets and special effects to get you going – they do the show on their own.
While performing “Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women,” Joel drank about half a bottle of red wine and passed it on to the audience. Someone should have told him that there is no such thing as cheap alcohol in Finland. This was not the only thing he should have been warned about. Many of the security-imposed restrictions don’t let people go as crazy as they would want to, especially at a show like Airbourne’s. Further into the song Joel said, “Let’s see how many people we can get to sit on each other’s shoulders” and got on the shoulders of one of the technicians himself. Little did he know that things like that are normally absolutely forbidden at concerts in Finland. After a short while, some brave people got on the shoulders of their friends and security tolerated it for a brief moment. Once Joel got off the technician, I saw guards immediately rush towards people, telling them to get back on the ground. So much for a true rock ’n’ roll show.
However, nobody seemed to be disappointed and the crowd continued to sing along louder and louder. After “Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast” the lights went off and the band left the stage for a short break, just to be back with a very long intro to “Runnin’ Wild” – Airbourne’s most famous song, in the video of which the great Lemmy himself made an appearance. Maybe I was too impatient while waiting for this song, but the intro seemed endless. Joel sounded a bit hoarse when he finally started to sing, but the crowd went absolutely bonkers. This rock ’n’ roll-triggered insanity exchange between the band and the audience continued when Joel got his hands on the tin cans again, this time breaking them over his head until the liquid started to spatter around. Airbourne closed the show with “Stand Up for Rock ’n’ Roll,” while yours untruly was already on the way out of the venue.
There is an almost rhetorical question going around the metal world as people wonder who is going to be the next Metallica. While this one is still open to speculations, at least AC/DC may retire in peace, because their flag will be carried on. Of course, Airbourne still have to undergo the test of time and if Joel continues to bang tin cans over his head and engage in dangerous stage activities, they might not make it that far. However, right now they are young, crazy, and hungry for rock ’n’ roll. As long as they remain on stage, they will get your balls to the wall any time.
1. Raise The Flag
3. Chewin’ The Fat
4. Diamond In The Rough
5. Blonde, Bad And Beautiful
6. Girls In Black
7. Bottom Of The Well
8. Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women
9. Born To Kill
10. No Way But The Hard Way
11. Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast
12. Runnin’ Wild
13. Stand Up for Rock ‘N’ Roll
Text: Tanja Caciur | Photos: Jana Blomqvist | Ed: Amy Wiseman