Airbourne: The Band That Stepped Up For Download Festival

Review by Jay Kleinschmidt

With Ozzy Osbourne cancelling 3 weeks out from the festival, fans across the board could be heard shouting out their disappointment. With many concert-goers screaming for refunds, the festival offered a merch discount. In addition, the cancellation of the headlining act meant a shuffling of timeslots. Slayer would be the new headliner – and with good reason as they are on their farewell tour – and Judas Priest playing immediately prior. The shuffling left an afternoon slot right on the main stage. Enter Airbourne.

These guys stepped up for this festival, big time. Not only did they make themselves available on short notice, but they brought their A-game and delivered a performance that made us wonder why they weren’t on the original bill in the first place. Not bad for their first gig in about a year and a half.

They primed us by playing the "Terminator" theme music before launching into "Ready to Rock." Joel O'Keeffe was on fire with high energy as usual. In between songs and during he is downing beers like he’s Bob Hawke. They have a full esky onstage which Joel picks out from a selection of all-Australian beers. He opens cans and launches them into the crowd to share the beer. Mid-set he hops on top of a tall guy’s shoulders and walks through the crowd, shaking hands along the way. The only disappointment for me was that they didn’t play "Back in the Game", my favourite Airbourne track. Then again, they didn’t need to as their set never got boring.

Towards the end, Joel acknowledges festivals of bygone times such as The Big Day Out and Soundwave and the sadness of their endings. He encourages everybody to support festivals such as Download for it is on the world stage and is a great platform to showcase the best of heavy music acts from around the world. They finish the set with "Live it Up" and the crowd gives them a thunderous roar of appreciation.

These guys really stepped up for this festival and fans loved their presence. Unbelievably, they are still young and have a bright future ahead. I see them securing higher spots on festivals as older acts retire. Hopefully Download gets them on the bill again next time because they didn’t disappoint. Rock on!

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