Few touring line-ups will set your pulse racing like Airbourne headlining the Barrowlands and Crobot filling the support slot. And of those few, even less are guaranteed good nights like this one. Firmly notched in the calendar for many people since tickets went on sale, it’s one a lot of people are clearly looking forward to.
Opening proceedings are all-girl band The Franklys. Playing an energetic set full of punk-edged rock songs, the energy from the four-piece is evident during their short set. They wield their chosen instruments with purpose and are intent to make an impression with a strong start, they do precisely that. By the second or third song in, the enthusiastic crowd has turned polite. Lead singer and guitarist Jenny Ahlkvist has a magnetic onstage persona and her partner in crime, Fanny Broberg on rhythm guitar with her hair flying about her face makes an interesting sight.
However, it’s this pair that make the think the band would be better suited as a three piece. Broberg’s rhythm guitar, whilst skilled didn’t add anything extra to the music but her backing vocals outshone Ahlkvist’s lead. Swap them about and you’d have something more lean and essentially, interesting. Meanwhile, Zoe Biggs and Lexi Clark bind together to form a tight rhythm section; Biggs being one of the most interesting bass players I’ve seen in recent times.
After a funky and swaggering song introduces Crobot and the four piece shimmy their way onstage, the four piece waste no time in re-acquainting themselves with Glasgow. Hammering their way through a meaty slot, the dirty groove rock band showcase songs from their debut album and recent Welcome to Fat City. It’s a tight, polished set with the older songs sounding better than ever and the more recent ones sounding excellent in their more fleshed out states compared to when they played them on their headline tour last year.
As ever, it’s difficult to know where to look when Crobot are onstage, be it frontman Brandon Yeagley’s antics with his microphone, bounding across the stage as if they were attached with rubber instead of tendons or bassist Jake Figueroa with his bass strapped to his chest, refusing to stay still as if walking on hot coals. He locks in well with his brother Paul on drums and create the funkiest grooves being played today. Meanwhile, guitarist Chris Bishop has fun smashing out riffs with his weapon of choice, throwing it around his body several times which remains an entertaining sight.
While older songs like “Skull of Geronimo” and “Nowhere to Hide” get the loudest cheers, the band are in their element with the chance to play new songs such as “Not For Sale”, “Plague of the Mammoths” and “Easy Money”. More groove-based and a bit more psychedelic than earlier efforts, it’s still Crobot and it slots in seamlessly with the more familiar material. Walking off after another successful visit to Glasgow, it’s obvious these guys live to play and it’s an easy summation to say they’ll have gained a whole lot of new fans tonight.
As the lights drop, the PA blares with the Terminator 2 theme and the Aussies assault the couple of thousand people in the room with high-octane rock. What they give, the crowd give back tenfold as the crowdsurfing begins almost immediately as several of us (myself included) are pinned against the barrier. They play a masterstroke of a setlist; finding the perfect balance of songs from new release Breakin’ Outta Hell and playing the older songs most people would want to hear. It’s not until the fourth song that we hear the new material with the fist-pumping “Rivalry” before back to “Girls in Black” and then the earnest escapade with a tribute to Lemmy in the form of “It’s All For Rock N’ Roll”, “Down on You” and the inspiring “Breakin’ Outta Hell”.
Meanwhile “No Way But the Hard Way” and “Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll” close out the main set before the encore of “Live it Up” and the insane “Runnin’ Wild”, alongside the standard foray into “Scotland the Brave”. While seeing them in a sweaty club a few months back is a preferable venue, you can’t deny they belong on a bigger stage playing to a much bigger audience. That much is obvious in the band as well as O’Keefe, guitarist David Roads and bass player Justin Street have more room to move around, O’Keeffe especially relishing in this. Joel’s brother and drummer of the band, Ryan, appears to enjoy not having to squash himself behind his drums this time around, too.
With their lyrical content focusing on sex and alcohol, their mission statement is to make sure people walk away having had a great night and it’s all anyone can talk about after the fact. As they deliver a flawless and entertaining night, their return to Glasgow has been highly anticipated and their return to the Barrowlands well-deserved. Playing their set as if you were listening to an album of theirs, it’s lean and doesn’t waste any time getting to the finish line whilst ensuring you get your money’s worth.
With the new album out and a lot of momentum behind them, the onus is on Airbourne to push for bigger venues and if they keep creating songs one part relatable, one part escapism, they’ll ensure people keep coming back for more.