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Airbourne live review – Limelight, Belfast

Live Review

Venue: Limelight, Belfast

Substituting perspiration for inspiration, hard-working Aussies Airbourne definitely know how to have – and provide – a good time.

The Limelight must be one of the easiest places to get seriously leathered. This low-ceilinged central-Belfast joint boasts two enormous bars and backs into a pub, Katy’s Bar. Guinness is not so much a beverage choice as a way of life. And everyone is fantastically friendly. During tonight’s performance, several punters will cheerfully offer drinks or lifts up onto their shoulders, or ask if I’m looking for anyone in the huge crowd. This combination of hearty camaraderie, rock appreciation and robust drinking couldn’t be more suited to our headliners, Airbourne – boozy defenders of the A-chord since 2003, and the most ferocious live force to come out of Australia since Rose Tattoo. Or AC/DC. Where their contemporaries see bars, Airbourne see extra stages. Where others are quiet and reserved, Airbourne are categorically not. Especially not in Ireland.

“Ryan and I have Irish heritage, so when we come back to Ireland, that comes out and we get fuckin’ right into it,” drawls singer/guitarist Joel O’Keeffe, backstage a few hours before showtime. Head-to-toe in black, with a mako shark’s tooth on a black string round his neck (“Take ya leg off, mate”) and a shock of bus-fresh curls, Joel is terrifically hungover. Much drinking was done in Dublin this morning, after a post-gig trip to Phil Lynott’s statue.

“It’s like the old blood line going ‘Hey! It’s good to be back!’” grins equally suffering drummer/little brother Ryan through a dark haze of Grudge-rivalling hair. “I don’t think I’ve slept though…”

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