Airbourne with openers The Native Howl landed in London for a stop at the London Music Hall on Thursday, September 22. Airbourne is comprised of brothers Joel O’Keefe on lead guitar and vocals and drummer Ryan O’Keefe, bassist Justin Street, and rhythm Guitarist Jarrad Morrice. The band was formed by the O’Keefe Brothers in late 2001, in Warnambool, Australia.
Airbourne has the same basic boneshaking approach as AC/DC (coincidentally, the new album is called Boneshaker), with more than a passing resemblance in their sound. If you can count to four, you can enjoy Airbourne. That’s not to say that landing close to one’s influences is a bad idea. Some of the best heavy rock acts in the business built their sound on the right combination of high raspy vocals, dirty tones that stop short of mushy or muffled, and clean, straightforward song structure. If you like Airbourne on album, you’d love them live.
After almost 20 years, the band sounds as good live as they did on their first album, 2003’s Runnin’ Wild. Not only did they sound great, but I have to give them style points for offering a toast to the late, great Lemmy Kilmister from a makeshift bar cart halfway into the show. They also have great taste in opening bands, bringing The Native Howl on the tour as support.
The Native Howl are probably the most bluegrass sounding metalheads to ever come out of Michigan. How bluegrass? Banjo bluegrass.
Jake Sawicki coming out onto stage with a banjo sporting humbucker pickups, brought joy to my heart. Anyone who has listened to the likes of “Losing Your Mind” by Pride and Glory or “Ten Million Slaves” by Otis Taylor has heard what these traditional instruments offer to the sound of heavy music. There is magic to be found here between Alex Holycross’s heavy lead vocals, delivered with a Pepper Keenan style fury and intensity, traditional vocal harmonies and, of course, a banjo that simultaneously fits in perfectly and stands out clearly in the mix. This is definitely a band to check out.
Airbourne with The Native Howl
London Music Hall
September 22, 2022
All photos by David Booth
The Native Howl: