Airbourne/Black Spiders/Taking Dawn - Bristol, Colston Hall – 30th March 2010 Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H   
Sunday, 11 April 2010 07:00

Entering the all-new redeveloped Colston Hall for the first time in many a long year, it struck me that the very first time I entered this historic venue was way back in 1982.  That time it was to watch a band who wanted to be AC/DC, (namely the rather wonderful Starfighters), and here I am some 28 years later and I have to say "things haven't really moved on that much in this music industry, have they?"


Once out of the sterile airport terminal like bar area that has been bolted onto the venue and into the older auditorium part of the building, memories of some of the previous gigs I'd seen Taking_Dawnhere came flooding back. Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, MSG (with the aforementioned Starfighters), UFO, all the big classic rock names that tonight's headliners are most certainly looking to join the ranks of sooner rather than later.


But first we had the opening thrust of Taking Dawn to warm us up on this chilly spring evening. Sort of like the long lost cousins of long lost UK rockers Chariot fronted by Dee Snider covering a set of unreleased Skid Row tunes, this Las Vegas four piece simply went down a storm, playing tracks from their 'Time To Burn' album which is just about to be released here in the UK. Special mention has to go to singer/guitarist Chris Babbett who onstage was like a man possessed (or was that 'obsessed' - by our Bristol cousin's bushy armpits), but once off the stage he was soon outside the venue in the pissing rain flyering his band with equal fervour. With commitment to the cause like that you cannot help but feel their upcoming stint supporting Kiss in UK arenas is more than a little deserved.


Black_SpidersWhere do I start with the Black Spiders? Fuck, this band are good, no forget that, Black Spiders are fucking immense. Having witnessed the band's riotous Wildhearts support slot a few feet down the road at the O2 Academy less than six months previous, the version of the Black Spiders that greeted us tonight was like some supercharged hot rod, sleek and finely tuned with a very nice set of flames up the side. Kicking off with the quality slabbage of 'Stay Down' the Spiders really can do no wrong. Tracks like 'Woman' with more guitars than a ex Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist reunion show, and the sublime 'Kiss Tried To Kill Me' with its "You Wanted The Best" intro are set to take Black Spiders to new levels of greatness, as they have fast outgrown their now ill fitting support band status. As 'St Peter' unfurled its mighty riff for everyone to relish, I glanced around to see everyone seemingly either stunned by what was happening on stage or stoned off their faces, thus making current Black Spider's sponsor Jagermeister a near perfect match made in headfuck heaven for this audience. One thing was for sure here tonight and that was Black Spiders made coach loads of new friends, now all they have to do is get off your stoned arses and get some tickets for the band's upcoming UK headline tour.


After a relatively short changeover revealed a back line crammed full of Marshall cabs (what else would you expect), Airbourne hit the stage like a veritable sonic boom. Kicking off at full sprint into the 100m headbang with 'Raise The Flag' and 'Hellfire' the Australian four piece were lAirbourneike a thunderbolt of pure energy with the three guitarists changing formation more times than a crack Heavy Metal midfield.  But here in also lies one of Airbournes' issues, due to all these frantic antics as the band tried to cover every inch of the venue's stage, it takes singer/guitarist Joel O'Keeffe a good six songs before he even recognises the respectably full crowd going absolutely apeshit right in front of him. Now that was perfectly fine when we saw them rammed into a room upstairs in a pub a few years ago, but now as headliners in venues of this size it simply leaves you thinking 'oh well', and this is especially true when a lot of the songs do tend to blend into one frantic riff after another, and a bit of banter never hurt anyone did it?


If you've read my review of the band's 'No Guts No Glory' album then you'll know I rate Airbourne as a live band, and once again their collective effort and the crunch of their live sound is second to none, but it is the lack of that killer tune or two in the main set that leaves it all a bit safe, and dare I say it again 'samey'. Admittedly 'No Way But The Hard Way' is a belting song live but when it was followed by 'Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast' it was damn hard to tell the two apart.


Airbourne_2Come encore time the baldies in the pit were continuing to ramp up their activity to levels unheard of in a venue like this, and everyone, and I do mean everyone, went suitably nuts to the evenings closing duo of 'Runnin' Wild' and 'Stand Up For Rock 'N' Roll' which remain in my eyes Airbourne's two best songs.


So did the guys from down under do enough to hike them up to the levels of the classic rock aristocracy mentioned earlier? Well probably in some ways I'd say yeah, but Joel really does need to start interacting with his crowd more, and the band needs to start mixing the tempo up a bit, or at this rate they'll be burnt out before they leave Europe later this month, and with the US next to conquer we don't want that to happen now do we?