Live Gig Report and Photos: Robert Cavuoto
The long awaited return of Airbourne to play New York finally arrived! The band; Joel O’Keeffe [lead vocals/guitar], his brother Ryan O’Keeffe [drums], David Roads [guitar], and Justin Street [bass] just completed a 21 show run of North America this Fall in support of their fourth CD, Breakin’ Outta Hell, released on September 23rd. Tonight’s show at the Gramercy Theater in New York was their second to last show of the tour.
From the band’s anthemic opener, “Ready to Rock,” fans knew exactly what was in store; a sweaty sonic rock n’ roll assault. With a majority of Airbourne’s lyrical content based on sex, lust, hell, and playing loud what else would be expected?
Appearing on stage in black jeans and shirts; the band was drenched in sweat as if they were wrestling each other backstage prior to the show. They exploded right out of the gate performing a series of fast-paced, four-minute songs; delivered swiftly and powerfully like a boxer throwing non-stop punches at their opponent.
Speaking with Joel earlier in the day, he appeared calm, cool, and collect; the just regular guy, but on stage, he is transformed into a rock n roll maniac. For “Girls in Black” he was carried on a roadie’s shoulders through the crowd and hoisted onto a back bar to finish the solo. During “Cheap Wine and Cheaper Women” he chugged a bottle of wine and tossed the half empty bottle to the crowd. Throughout the show, he would shake cans of beers then crack them open on his head. Clearly, on an adrenaline high, you would have never known that Joel had a few broken ribs and a torn ligament in his foot due to stage fall a few weeks ago! All antics and injuries aside, for 75 minutes Joel sang and played his heart out; in many instances channeling his inner Bon Scott, as Joel possesses a vocal range in-line with the late great AC/DC vocalist.
David, Justin, and Ryan also crushed the crowd with an angry and energetic display of raw emotion. No props, pyro, or stage gimmicks were needed tonight; just four guys rocking out to groove inspired songs with killer riffs and leads.
They pounding out blues-inspired riff driven songs like; “Too Much Too Young Too Fast,” “Chewin’ the Fat,” “Live it Up,” and “Stand Up for Rock n’ Roll.” Off their new CD, they played “Breakin’ Outta Hell” and “Rivalry” which fit nicely in the set as well as the classics. Joel told me that they didn’t want to introduce too many new songs into the set, as the band hasn’t been around the US in a while so they wanted to play songs fans would be more familiar with.
To end the show, Airbourne ripped through an extended version of “Runnin Wild” giving the night the grandiose send-off it deserved. As the lights went down fans were chanting” “One more song!” Joel promised to be back in the states in 2017 and the band’s legions of New York fans promised to be there when it happens!