Every time you see Florence Black, what you’re watching is a band getting better and better. MV has watched the Merthyr boys as they’ve grown, but perhaps tonight – yet again – is the best they’ve been. Tristan Thomas now has a presence to match songs like “Zulu” and “Bird On A Chain,” but it’s the new song that is most convincing. “Start Again” was recently released, but in a live setting, it already belongs on stage, and it really does suggest that the second full-length album could be even more special.
“Smoke” showcases Perry Davies’ drums and Jordan Evans’ bass superbly. They rip into “Breadfan,” the same as they always do, and the fact that they don’t really sound like any other band is highlighted even further. This is evident on the set closer “Sun And Moon” where they don’t even sound like themselves – yet it’s still magnificent.
Florence Black has long been a name that people dropped, but they are ready for the real breakthrough.
Joel O’Keefe is not one of those frontmen who go unnoticed. So when the beating heart of Airbourne screams into the microphone, “Rock n roll is not a fad, it’s not top of the pops, rock n roll is for life,” you probably wouldn’t want to disagree with him. But the thing is, you couldn’t anyway, because he means every single word. For goodness sake, he delivers that speech before a song called “Rock N Roll For Life,” as if to underline that what they lack in subtlety, Airbourne makes up for by being brilliant.
The song after that one – they’d already done the classic “Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast” by this point – was “Back In The Game,” and that’s sort of prescient, given that I hadn’t seen the band for a staggering almost seven years.
I can confirm they’ve not changed a bit (beyond a new rhythm guitar player).
As if to prove it, during “Girls In Black,” Joel goes for one of those shoulder races he does, smashes a beer can on his head, and all is well with the world.
If not the ears. Airbourne is, as far as I’m concerned, the loudest band in the world. They are, I reckon, louder than Motorhead (and more on them later).
Flames shoot high before “Burnout The Nitro,” while before ‘Bottom Of The Well” – which segues neatly into the “Ghostbusters” theme – they reckon that Rock n Roll (that phrase again) is enough to make you not go to work tomorrow.
And the reason for this rebellion? Well, Lemmy. That’s who. Before “Stand Up For Rock N Roll,” they fix drinks for the packed crowd and reason that “we’re all in this together to keep the spirit alive.
They are doing.
“Stand Up For Rock N Roll” (look close and you might see a pattern here) ends the set, but only to get to “Live It Up” and “Runnin’ Wild.”
It’s after the latter, and right before they go offstage, that Joel O’Keefe sums it all up. “Rock n roll will never die! As long as we are alive and you are alive!”
And that’s it. That’s Airbourne. Yes, OK, they’ve played the same song, basically for 90 minutes, but they are brilliant at it, and that’s true for the same reason I said before: they believe. They believe in the power of rock n roll to heal what ails you, and watching them is always so life-affirming.
PHOTOS BY KEITH TRACY