THE CIRCUS, HELSINKI
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
The Australian band Airbourne have gained a steady position among the rock audiences around the world. The band was formed in 2003, and since then they have released four studio albums, including the latest STRAIGHT OUTTA HELL (2016). Airbourne performed Finland in 2009 for the first time, and after that, they’ve been a regular visitor here. Last summer they performed at Provinssirock, and now they did two club shows, one in Logomo, Turku and another one in Helsinki. Thursday is not the best possible day for rock shows, but the band still managed to attract more than 700 people to The Circus.
By the time Airbourne hit the stage and opened the show with “Ready To Rock,” the crowd was ready for action. Seeing this band working on stage reveals why they’re so popular as they are. Their live shows have always been solid rock and energetic, and that’s what people want to see. Airbourne keeps things loose enough to be fun, but the band is musically a very well functioning machine. You only have to take a look on vocalist/guitarist Joel O’Keefe, and that’s certainly enough to make you enjoy the band. Joel is a person who looks to be born to be on stage. It’s the fact that he might not be the best vocalist in the world but his stage presence, endless energy and explosive solos throughout the whole set is just convincing. Underneath the frontman, there’s a well-oiled rhythm machine consisting of bass player Justin Street, drummer Ryan O’Keefe and the new rhythm guitarist Harri Harrison who together provided a reliable foundation for the show.
The band has a bunch of great songs. Starting from the rocking opener “Ready to Rock” to final encore “Runnin’ Wild,” most of the songs have great hooks and catchy riffing. All four Airbourne albums were represented on the set list although it was revolved heavily around the latest release STRAIGHT OUTTA HELL and the debut RUNNIN’ WILD. Both albums were present with five tracks each and there were no fillers in the set. Some people will always say that Airbourne sounds too much AC/DC but the fact is that even they may sound like their role model, they’re still their own animal. Being a rock band without sounding dated or compared to somebody else is almost impossible, and Airbourne has a bag full of great stuff on their own.
The stage setup and the lightning looked great. There weren’t any special gimmicks or effects used during the show. Mostly the guys just held their own plots, banged their heads and did their job. When “Girls in Black” started Joel did his old trick and appeared in the middle of the crowd and broke beer cans using his head. His brother Ryan also stepped once in the limelight and appeared briefly in front of the stage before going back to behind his kit, and the band started the final encore.
Perhaps the highlight of the show came during the encores as Airbourne wrapped up the show with the debut album tracks “Live It Up” and “Runnin’ Wild.” As soon as “Live It Up’s” famous intro line was uttered, the entire club seemed to have their fists in the air, and the atmosphere was tangible. Not so much that people acted like unruly, but there was a kind of positive energy ripped through the air.
Airbourne proved again that they’re one of the best “old-school” rock bands out there. The show was raw, sweaty and high energy performance with no breaks or unnecessary tricks. The band plays very well together and the song material is overall strong. There’s nothing to complain but one thing. The setlist contained only thirteen songs, and it lasted roughly 75 minutes. It was far too little but, other than that, there’s nothing to complain. There aren’t many bands left on this level who still play music like this, but Airbourne carries the flag with the pride. Next year is going the be the bands 15’th Anniversary. Hopefully, we will then receive the next Airbourne studio album and see another tour by the band.
Ready to Rock
I’m Going to Hell for This
Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast
Down on You
Girls in Black
Bottom of the Well
Breakin’ Outta Hell
Diamond in the Rough
It’s All for Rock ‘n’ Roll
Stand Up for Rock ‘n’ Roll
Live It Up