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.
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.
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