Airbourne, Black Spiders – Manchester Academy – 22nd July 2023
In the words of the Black Spiders song, what good’s a rock without a roll? We got plenty of rock while both Black Spiders and Airbourne came up with enough roll to sink a battleship. Result!
A handful of dates for the Airbourne UK flying visit sees the Aussie quartet take on Manchester. The classic rock played over the PA makes it feel like a hard rock disco with beer and a couple of live bands thrown in! Quo, Motorhead, Saxon (I sound like Colin Grigson from Bad News), Metallica and Maiden and a chance to sing along and get revved up for both headline and support bands.
There are grand cheers as the Airbourne logo on the backdrop is revealed and excitement increases as the huge Marshall stacks are undraped, topped off with a set of floodlights that are set to blaze into the crowd in rabbit/headlight style very soon
With the Terminator theme tune for their intro music, swirling red spots prepare us for an onslaught of epic proportions, Airbourne have learned and learned well from the old and classic school of rock. Dashing, nay sprinting onstage a la Maiden and kicking out a non-stop series of riffs in the style of some (one in particular) of their countrymen, they’re a white-hot fireball of energy and fervour. Joel O’Keefe is all over the place, covering every inch of the stage in his ‘more holes than material’ jeans, as he warms us with a “Fuck London!“, telling us, quite rightly that Manchester/”Maainchester!” is the place to be! They’re not the only Aussies welcoming some seasonal Manchester rainy weather as the cricketers down the road are just as glad to see some healthy bouts of precipitation in the Ashes Summer.
Similar precipitation is worked up indoors as havoc is wreaked and Ready To Rock complete with suitably vociferous ‘whoa-oh-oh’s gets pumped out at a heart-threatening pulse. Invigorating- and the fans are already on shoulders pumping their fists while a couple of the more exuberant come swiftly over the barrier. Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast (you can see Bad News sharing their Motorbike Song riff) and Girls In Black are early evidence for their Aussie Rock and Roll credentials, a pause for breath between the relentless/breathless opening flurry Ready To Rock and Rock ‘n’ Roll For Life that set an absolutely furious pace.
Within half an hour, Joel is out in the crowd on the shoulders of a brave soul, smashing a tube of lager on his skull for his trademark dousing of those close enough. Partnered with Burnout The Nitro, a huge groove, four to the floor, has several in the crowd doing their Angus heel rhythm complete with crazily zigzagging solo. Either side of Joel, Justin Street and newest recruit Jarrad Morrice do the decent thing and step back (shades of Cliff and Malcolm) to the stacks, occasionally stepping up for some BVs or to sprint relay style to each other’s side of the stage.
The endless barrage has Airbourne proving the maxim that a rock without a roll ain’t worth nowt with the anthemic It’s All For Rock ‘n’ Roll – one that could well soon be the intro music for the next in line of up-and-coming bands – and Stand Up For Rock And Roll. Closing the set with the sort hellraising breakneck pace they set the standard with over an hour ago.
A dozen songs and you’re spent and sated from an overdose of what Joel once called “a dose of Aussie pub rock.” The three year cycle means we’re overdue an album, yet the appeal with Airbourne is in the electricity of their live show.
Numb and bleeding ears and the chance to have one more holler is a sign of having a good time. Life on the road, never surrender songs like Live It Up fly the flag and have the big names looking over their shoulders to see what’s coming up in the fast lane. With the likes of Airbourne committed to the cause, heavy rock and roll will never die.
But first, “Manchester! Are you suitably drunk?” asks Spiders frontman Pete Spiby. “I am!”
Black Spiders are cut from similar cloth. Brothers from other mothers indeed. A band that takes the music seriously, making an entrance to a trumpeting Latino Morricone-y soundtrack, but take themselves slightly less so. Inciting the Mancunians to greet them with the finger and general “F**k you Black Spiders!” friendly abuse (done in the house style of Phil Campbell’s Bastard Sons, the first effort is described as “a Sheffield girls night out” Manchester gets in the spirit and ups their game.
Like the shelf in which sit Massive Wagons, The Wildhearts and Clutch, the Black Spiders trademark is fiery rock and roll; Death Comes Creepin comes saturated red light and paired withthe Darkness-y swagger of Hot Wheels, has the attention grabbed of the healthy gathering who’ve arrived early to support the support.
In between the abuse – “don’t rub it in” – we even get to celebrate a birthday in the band and the barriers are well and truly down as we have some fun with KISS Tried To Kill Me and the punky energy of A Rat Is A Rat. Ten songs delivered with little fuss but scores of passion will ensure repeat visits (Stockport in August anyone?) and a resounding success for the sons of the North.