Airbourne / Trucker Diablo - Belfast, Limelight 1 - 24th August 2016 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby   
Thursday, 01 September 2016 20:35

Billy Idol once sang about it being “hot in the city tonight”… Well, not even Mr Broad could have predicted how hot this particular night could have gotten, as the guts of a thousand fans braved the “not on a school night” rule to get down and sweaty – and somewhat tipsy – with returning Aussie party rockers Airbourne.


Openers Trucker Diablo may only have rolled a few miles up the motorway, but they are returning to a Belfast stage for the first time in what seems like forever.


Trucker Diablo - Tom

And it’s obvious that the rabid, and extremely partisan, faithful are in fine fettle for the reunion, as Tom Harte’s opening clarion call of “let’s fucking do this” is met with the first massive cheer of the evening.


It’s truly a “homecoming” fit for (local) heroes, as everyone takes up the invitation to “Party Like They Started The End Of The World”.


As Tom jokes about Airbourne frontman Joel O’Keefe’s penchant for scaling anything he can wrap his body around – “I can’t even climb a Milky Bar” – the band cram a lot into their allotted half hour, including the ever anthemic ‘Drink Beer, Destroy (which Tom introduces by saying “this is probably the last time we’re gonna play this version” before the band seamlessly meld it into their take on ‘Tallica’s ‘Seek And Destory) and a new song, ‘Fighting For Everything’, which is old school Trucker boogie with a characteristically defiant singalong chorus.


By the time the dying bars of ‘The Rebel’ echo around the rafters, the sweat is pouring off the posters covering the venue walls, and there is no doubt that the Big Truck has rolled through another storming set. Don’t leave so long until the next time lads…


Trucker Diablo play their annual Christmas show at the Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill, on Saturday 17 December. Support will come from Hell’s Addiction. Tickets are on sale now from




The venue is rammed literally rammed to the doors, with hardly room to exhale never mind move and the moisture level in the air is reaching such a level you’d swear a tropical monsoon has passed through the venue during the rather overlong wait between main support The Treatment and the arrival of the headliners.


Somehow, people find some wriggle room as Joel and his bandmates eventually bound on stage, the half-naked and already sweat-soaked front man asking if we’re all ‘Ready To Rock’? Of course, we fucking are… that’s why we’re here.


What follows is very much what you expect when Airbourne roll into town – a hot and sweaty rock ‘n’f’n’ roll show.


It has all the elements: O’Keefe stomping back and forth across the stage Angus-style, only standing still when actually singing into his mic; O’Keefe smashing a beer can off his head and spraying the front rows; O’Keefe taking to a roadie’s shoulders to make his way to the bar to pour himself a fresh beer; O’Keefe necking half a bottle of wine and then passing it into the crowd before inviting the women present to get on their men’s shoulders for him to hurl open beer cans in their direction… Yes, it’s very much the Joel O’Keefe show, and he is very much the centre of attraction, making it easy to forget that, behind all these antics there is actually a rather tight band who deliver a very neat line in crowd-pleasing rock anthems.




Set-wise, it’s a safe one, drawing very much on that showcased during their blitz of the European festival circuit. ‘Ready To Rock’, ‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’, ‘Chewin The Fat’, ‘Diamond In The Rough’… it’s all the “big hits” and just exactly what you expect to hear. Only the title track, ‘Breakin Outta Hell’, gives a nominal nod to the fact that they have a new album on the horizon.


Like ‘em or loathe ‘em, Airbourne are one of those bands who do exactly what it says on the tin. And, tonight, everyone present loved ‘em for it!


Photographs by The Dark Queen.


Airbourne’s new album, ‘Breakin’ Outta Hell’, is released on 23 September via Spinefarm Records.


Airbourne return to the UK in November, to play the following dates:


Thursday 17 – Portsmouth, Pyramids
Friday 18 – Norwich, UEA
Saturday 19 – Nottingham, Rock City
Monday 21 – Birmingham, O2 Institute
Tuesday 22 – Leeds, O2 Academy
Wednesday 23 – Newcastle, O2 Academy
Thursday 24 – Glasgow, Barrowlands
Saturday 26 – Manchester, O2 Ritz
Monday 28 – London, Electric Ballroom
Tuesday 29 – London, Electric Ballroom


Support on all dates comes from Crobot.


FOOTNOTE: Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that this review makes only a scant mention of main support The Treatment. The reason for this is simple: my negative views on the Cambridge-based quintet are well-known and well-documented on this very site. The band and I also have a torrid relationship, which has actually included me being banned from their shows. Therefore, rather than do them, and their fans, the disservice of another needless tirade on my part, I have chosen to omit them from the review.