Thursday, 8 April 2010

Airborne in Concert

There are two bands I've seen in concert who were so loud, my ears were still ringing the following morning. The bands were AC/DC and Motörhead. I can now add a third band to that list: Airbourne. In fact, my ears are still not right more than 24 hours 36 hours after their gig in Glasgow on Tuesday night. I don't think Airbourne were any louder than the other two; I guess it's just that my old ears are taking longer to recover than my teenage ears did.

Airbourne in Concert
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
As teenagers we used to think that ringing ears were the sign of a good concert. Now I realise that ringing ears is the sign of permanently damaged hearing! I suspect that my enjoyment of loud concerts in the past is at least partially responsible for the mild hearing loss I suffer from at the best of times but clearly the day after an Airbourne gig is far from the best of times!

Don't get me wrong. I have stated on a number of occasions that I love noisy guitar music - it's my children who tell me to, "Turn that racket down!" However, I fear that Tuesday night pushed even my ears further than was comfortable and the volume is the one complaint I have from what was otherwise an extraordinarily good concert.

Review: Taking Dawn

In the value for money stakes, there was not one, but two support acts: each with a set lasting about 40 minutes.

The first band up was Taking Dawn - a four piece from Las Vagas. The blurb on the venue website said: "Heavy melodic hooks, guitar solos and great vocals from these Las Vegas hard rockers." And here lies my first complaint about the volume... "melodic"? Who knows? They had an "Everything louder than everything else" approach to volume so that you couldn't really hear any individual instrument. All you could hear was a wall of heavily distorted noise. I'm fairly sure the lead guitarist played solos but I could barely hear a note through the general melee of sound. Note: this was at the start of the evening before half my hearing gave up and went bye-bye!

Having said that, they did exactly what a support act are supposed to do. They worked really hard at rousing the crowd: trying to get people clapping; moving; reacting... I did feel a bit sorry for them though as the venue was barely half full.

Update: I've now posted my Taking Dawn pictures to Flickr.

Review: Black Spiders

The next support act was a bit more to my taste. The Black Spiders pulled the volume back a bit and the sound seemed to be better balanced. They are a five piece band: three guitars, bass and drums. The two "lead" guitarists seemed to share the solo duties fairly evenly between them, the drummer was particularly entertaining and the bass player surprisingly uncoordinated! Oh... and it seems that if you want to be in their gang - you need to have a beard!

The blurb on the venue website said: "Hotly tipped British rockers Black Spiders, who feature ex-Groop Dogdrill member Pete Spiby, claim they sound like ‘Black Sabbath eating Guns N Roses for breakfast’ and have won full support from the UK rock press for their ‘crotch-rodden sleaze rock’." To be honest, I didn't hear too much that I'd identify as Sabbath-ish but I liked what I heard and was pleased to discover some of their stuff on eMusic. (Worth noting that this is another band with black in their name that I like!)

Again, they did what a support band needs to do. They were a lot less flamboyant than Taking Dawn but that's not a bad thing. They got on with their set, made me want to hear more of their music and they got us wound up and ready for Airbourne.

Update: I've now posted my Black Spiders pictures to Flickr.

Review: Aibourne

Now the main event... and Airbourne did not disappoint. They put on a belter of a show. No back projection, pyrotechnics or parading about on bikes for them. Just energy, adrenaline and amplification! They were LOUD but the sound seemed better balanced so you could at least make out the solos.

All four members of the band know exactly what they are doing and pump out good old-fashioned guitar based rock. However, special mention has to go to Joel O’Keeffe, who as front man, vocalist and lead guitarist, worked especially hard for his money. He put on a heck of a show. Not content with leaping about on stage, at one point he leapt off the stage and disappeared into the audience still playing as he went. Everyone was looking around trying to spot where he'd gone, when I noticed the chap beside me pointing. And there he was... standing on the bar in the middle of the crowd, belting out a blinder of a guitar solo. Excellent!

Interestingly, although billed as the No Guts, No Glory Tour, roughly two-thirds of the set came from Runnin' Wild, their first album. I wonder if they felt safer sticking to well-known tracks? Also, they didn't play Get Busy Livin', which has been getting a bit of airplay here on rock radio. Otherwise though, I have no real complains about the set list. Nicely balanced and the crowd pleasing sing-a-longs like Too much, Too Young, Too Fast kept until the end.

Update: I've now posted my Airbourne pictures to Flickr: good quality camera pictures and iPhone pictures.

And finally...

I know I sound like a grumpy old man complaining about the volume but there are two reasons for that. 1) I am a grumpy old man and 2) I am slightly worried that the tinnitus is still with me days after the event. I am hoping that the white noise I'm hearing in my ears will eventually go away but I'm concerned that it seems to be taking its time about it.

That said, I want to finish on a more positive note by commenting on the demographics of the audience. There were a lot of young, long haired lads in the audience as might be expected but there were a good number of fat, baldy old men like me there too. And, although the majority of the audience were male, there were more women there than I remember being at gigs like this when I was a teenager. In fact, the chap next to me (of similar girth and vintage as myself) appeared to be there with his daughter and her friend (they looked about 14 years old). With an audience of dads and daughters; teenage hoodies and ageing hippies; long-haired lads and baldy lardies - the future has to be good for rock music. As Airbourne themselves said in the opening song of the evening:
As long as you're alive and we're alive
Rock 'n' roll will never die...
-- Raise The Flag by Airbourne


Mosher said...

I'm with you on the ringy ear thing. I found the last two gigs I went to (Fear Factory and Hatebreed/Machine Head), my ears were ringing for a day or so afterwards. MH were definitely too loud to the point where the sound was murky. I've read complaints about earlier dates on the tour, too. No such problems with Hatebreed, who played the set before.

Maybe it is an age thing, but I'm getting tempted to wear earplugs for indoor gigs. I see quite a few people - young and old - already do.

I was also happy at both gigs to see a huge variety in age range present. Aging, bearded biker types down to incredibly hot girls who I really shouldn't be staring at at my age.

I've seen younger, though. When I saw Slipknot/Slayer at Manchester a few years back, on guy had his son (using earplugs) with him in the moshpit. The kid was about 11 and *more* than capable of handling himself. Thing is, his fists were flailing around groin height. Guess who found that one out the hard way?


Graeme said...

Anyone know what time it finished in Glasgow? I'm off to see them in Newcastle tonight but my mate's train leaves at 10:45pm so he might miss the end. Just wanted a heads up to try persuade him to get the metro instead.


Anonymous said...

The Black Spiders are at the Cathouse on the 21st of this month David - might be a good way to hear an extended set ?
They're worth checking out then ?


Mosher said...

Graeme, curfew for almost all concert venues in the UK seems to be 11pm. I'd give them a ring today and ask - I've found by the afternoon of a gig the staff there generally know the stage times for all the bands.

What venue are they at? I've not been to a gig in Newcastle since the Mayfait and Riverside both hosted bands...

David said...

Hello Mr Mosh

I think I'll invest in earplugs for the next gig I go to. Better to have and not need and all that... At almost 48 hours after the gig, my left ear is almost back to normal but my right still feels like it's underwater. It was a great gig but not worth this amount of grief!

Hello Graeme

I suspect it's too late to let you know but it finished just before 11.

Hello Jaye

I'd say yes... worth seeing. They are on Spotify: Black Spiders so you can give them a listen and make up your own mind. Let me know what you think.

David said...

Hello again Jaye

Meant to say that I especially liked the St Peter track in their live set.