Airbourne at The Palace Theatre

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Airbourne at The Palace Theatre


We made it into the main room just in time to witness The Casanovas take the stage; quickly it’s apparent that even as I used to love this band, after seeing them tonight, within a few songs those pangs remain. Tommy still has the swagger, Damo still has the balls and Jaws, well, he’s simply a beast on the drums. They played a tight set considering some flack they copped from some unschooled punters in the crowd chanting ‘Airbourne’ over and over. Obviously, we all knew who the main attraction was for the evening, but those knuckleheads ought to have had enough balls to pay some respect to a band that paved the way for the rock revival in Melbourne. A hearty ‘great work, The Casanovas’ is due their (but someone tell them to play 10 Outta 10 next time).


Waiting for Airbourne to come on seemed like a joint effort by the crowd to inhale as much booze as possible while steeling themselves for the expected rock onslaught. Indeed, the crowd suddenly looked like something of a mix between Mr Pockets in Gladstone Park and the movie Roadhouse. The place was getting loose.


The lights went down, the obligatory Terminator theme music started and Airbourne ran out. It must be a great feeling for this band to know that from the moment that first note is hit on Raise The Flag they have everyone’s absolute attention. It’s also abundantly clear that one of the most underrated aspects of Airbourne remains that they nail everything and their years of constant touring has made them probably the tightest band in this country. That, in turn, pays off in spades; looking around as they cranked through a mix of songs from their two albums there wasn’t a single person in view who wasn’t into it, either grinning from ear to ear, singing along or punching the air with glee. In fact, oftentimes it was all three at once.


It’s also great to see a frontman that’s so engaging with an audience; the key to Airbourne is that there’s no bullshit. And, subsequently, Joel O’Keefe, whether on the stage or doing a solo standing on the mixing desk after threading his way through the crowd and then around The Palace’s tiers, is treated like a long lost favourite family member.


As they played Running Wild as an encore, the realisation swept the crowd that the show was almost over; it was an odd sensation. Airbourne had just played for an hour and a half, giving everything they had for the entire show – only stopping for some banter here and there between songs – and the entire venue almost needed to take stock and appreciate how visceral and full-on the Airbourne experience truly was. Few bands achieve such a heightened sense of pure rock ‘n’ roll energy, and to witness it firsthand is an experience that stays with you.


One of the best parts is that seeing them is almost like seeing one of your mates bands back in high school, that feeling that you got because you’re proud that your mates had started a band… only now that band kicks arse and gives you a reason to join 1500 hundred other people and have the kind of fun only loud rock ‘n’ roll can bring. Stand up for rock ‘n’ roll indeed.


By Marty Umanski