Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Airbourne, Newcastle Carling Academy


It’s Tuesday, 18th November (second draft: Monday, 2nd February). I’ve snatched a few precious minutes before work because my teacher is ill again and I didn’t technically have last lesson. It would probably be much more constructive for me to have stayed in college to do Media work, but oh well. This is important, in my opinion.

Yesterday was a strange day. I woke up at 6:20 to the sound of Airbourne. Nothing really unusual about that. I had the normal feeling of not wanting to get up so I listened to the whole album before I did.

Then I got up. Feeling tired and slightly nauseous – a sensation I recognised strongly from July 5th. But I felt better as I got ready and set off for college.

My first show on a schoolnight. It was weird. When I was thinking about it, I was pretty excited – but, most of the time I was doing ordinary school stuff, so I wasn’t.

I attempted vocab learning for French in tutorial. First lesson was Media. Steph and I couldn’t get into the editing room, so we went to B13 to catch up with our tasks instead, including watching the preliminary exercise video. Of course, I soon got bored and messed around on the Internet instead, eventually arriving at the Carling Academy website where Airbourne topped their list of featured shows.

Next came French, where I did a bit of cheating on my vocab but I always think that helps in the long run. I got out my diary, where I had ‘Airbourne – RUNNIN’ WILD AND FREE!’ written. I had been counting down for thirty days. I showed Laura, who said ‘I bet you’re excited right now then, aren’t you?’ Of course I was!

It was a very cold morning. I was wearing my big black boots, black skinny jeans, Jack Daniels shirt and black blazer jacket. So I wasn’t particularly warm. Luckily, we went into the corridor we usually stand in when it’s cold.

I was free after break, and so was Steph, so we both went to the resource centre as we had work to do. We sat at our usual balcony desk and I re-drafted my twelve mar sexual ethics essay whilst listening to Airbourne in my CD player. It’s quite a short album, though, and I finished it within the hour. I got to listen to Stone Gods for a bit as well before it was lunchtime, and we went to Becky’s.

It was quite an ordinary lunchtime as well. All I rally remember is that we started re-watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in order to laugh at the bad acting and squeaky voices. It was hilarious.

After Lunch, I had Philosophy and Ethics. With one minor difference: my teacher wasn’t there. Which was a shame, as I’d been wondering whether he’d be interested in what I was getting up to, but you can’t have everything. I instead spent the lesson doing work on the Four Working Principles of Situation Ethics in the resource centre. I also coloured in the A4 sheet I printed off in green and orange TicTac style. It looked rather funky.

Then came English, Eleanor and I arrived first, and in hope that our teacher would think we weren’t there, we sat in the dark for a while. However, the rest of the class soon joined us, and our teacher came to teach.

It was an extremely boring lesson. Sarah and Wannabe Ste were both absent, so I basically spent the hour writing part of my Electric Eel story in my paper folder. Kyle telling Kayleigh he was gay was far more interesting than language and power.

English was my last lesson, so I set off for work once I was done with it. Work was really strange as well. Because I had to leave an hour earlier, at five past five, I did all my main jobs really fast. Somehow too fast. This resulted in me having about fifteen minutes left – not enough time to really do the big jobs, but too much to be filled by the little ones. Rachael asked me where I was going. I told her the Carling Academy in Newcastle (after I accidentally told her City Hall...) and she told me she’d seen the Plain White T’s there. She’d been up on the balcony, but because the venue’s only quite small she felt really close to the band. The PWTs are hardly my cup of tea, but this still made me feel even more excited: wherever we were, we’d be near the stage.

So, at five past five, I set off home.

By the time I got there, I felt really sleepy and I had a stomach ache, but I just suspected pre-gig nerves, because I was hungry still. As soon as I got in, I ate my tea, which was mince and vegetables. I felt strange at that point. It was dark, I had just got back from work and I was tired, yet soon I’d be driving (well – being a passenger) to Newcastle to see a concert.

After I’d finished eating, I had to get ready, and quickly. I changed my Jack Daniels shirt to my Punky Fish one – the same shirt I’d worn to Twickenham. I brushed my teeth and gave my face a quick wash before putting on my black eyeliner and some Ralph Lauren Cool to help to cover up any potential sweaty stink. I’d decided to wear my AC/DC patch covered denim jacket, so I’d hidden a twenty pound note inside one of the little button-up pockets earlier to ensure I didn’t forget any money for a t-shirt. I also gathered up a whole lot of stuff for the car – Silver Spoons and Broken Bones, Runnin’ Wild, my portable CD player, my little speakers and Barry Trotter and the Unnecessary Sequel. Our car CD player wasn’t working, so our driving enjoyment depended entirely on this.

We set off at around quarter to six. I set the speakers off with Amy’s mp3 player playing some Airbourne, but as she’d imported the songs weirdly I had to find the next one myself once one had finished, so I gave up and put Runnin’ Wild in the CD palyer instead.

Disaster! The batteries died! We faced a quiet journey.

Dad told us he’d brought lots of sweets and bottles of water .Indeed, the back of the car was full of them. I had my own water bottle so I generally drank from that until I got sick of old water and wanted some fresh new cold stuff.

The first sweets we ate were those really sour fizzy cola things, and they tasted rank because my mouth was still minty from toothpaste so I didn’t eat any more sweets on the way there.

We stopped at a garage on the main road. We stopped at a similar one on the way home from Maiden, so they remind me of concerts now.

One thing I remember a lot about the journey came when we were approaching Newcastle. It was obviously dark, and we could see the lights of the city. Town. Whatever. I said how cool they looked and Dad said something like ‘this’ll all be part of the experience, you’ll remember this later’. I said I didn’t want to think about later. I wanted to see the show first. We also talked about his shows, when he was about my age. He said they always tended to be around ‘this time of year’ as well, when the nights were getting darker. I think darkness makes anything more exciting, except maybe sunbathing.

In Newcastle, the Academy was on the other side of the river, so we got to go over a bridge. I love doing that because you can see a lot from where you are. It looked especially pretty in the dark.

We parked up in our college car park near the Metro Radio Arena, the car park we used to use for Disney on Ice performances. It was really chilly, and I was starting to feel nervous, an irritating habit I have about stuff like this. These combined make my jaw ache (don’t ask me why, it’s weird). I warmed up when we got walking, though. It was about a ten minute walk to the Academy; we saw a few rockers getting out of a car near us, but no more until we were on the next street from the venue. One guy commented on my AC/DC jacket, making me laugh.

It was an absolute beast when we got to the venue. We just suddenly saw it, and it’s one of those that literally has a lit up white board above the door, with black stripes and the name of the band on it in red. AIRBOURNE. And the queue was immense – it stretched right around the building and it was full of rockers in various awesome t-shirts. It’s times like this when I don’t feel ‘different’… haha.

It was probably about ten or quarter past seven by that point, just after doors time, so Dad didn’t want to join the queue yet. We waited on the other side of the street for a bit, and when we did join, we ended up round the back of the building. It was a fast-moving queue, though. When we were nearing the doors Dad thought he saw someone he recognised from home. (It turned out later that he actually worked in the Tesco near Dad’s work that he often goes to during lunch).

Our tickets were checked, but the security guys didn’t rip off the rippy bits, they just let us in. The inside was quite posh and red, with posh and red lighting. We went in and the first thing I heard was 22 Acacia Avenue playing over the sound system – a sure sign, if I needed one, that it was going to be a good night. We went up a couple of flights of stairs and waited while Amy went to the loo. I saw a couple of Twickenham event shirts in the bar area.

You weren’t given a seat on the balcony like I’d thought. We could just sit anywhere. We sat to the left (right from the stage), three rows back (the nearest we could get to the front). Once we were seated Dad went to the loo as well. It was ages – we were getting quite worried, but he returned after a while. As always, he’d got talking to someone, this time apparently a few young dudes about Airbourne. He said he’d found the t-shirt stall, too, so he gave Amy and I instructions on how to get there. We had to take our tickets pretty much everywhere we went so we could get back through the doors onto the balcony.

We couldn’t find the shirts anywhere, though. We searched for a while but eventually gave up and returned to Dad, asking him exactly where we were meant to be going. He obviously couldn’t show us or we’d lose our seats, so Dad took Amy and I waited for them.

Whilst they were gone, all the lights went down. A big ‘wooooaaaarrrr’-y noise filled the room. I was shitting myself – I hadn’t been ready, I’d completely forgotten that the first support band were due on, and I was still sat on my own.

Sound and Fury came on, relaxing me a bit once I knew what was going on.

As this was my first indoor gig, the power of the sound blew me away. It was good to get used to, though, considering there’d be two more bands.

Dad and Amy came back during the show. We watched it together for a bit, but I didn’t really like Sound and Fury much. It was hard to get into them because I didn’t know their songs, but it was mainly because the singer annoyed me, posing about at the front of the stage. One of the guitarists reminded me of Slash – he had a similar Les Paul and a lot of dark, curly hair.

I soon got bored, though, so Amy and I went to get my t-shirt. We had to go downstairs and get through some more doors. The guy who checked our tickets told us to go upstairs, thinking we were looking for our seats, but another one noticed and told him it was OK to let us in. I bought the Airbourne tour shirt.

We watched the rest of Sound and Fury. Dad and Amy both really enjoyed them, unlike me, and they went to get Amy’s shirt. Once they came back, none of us would move again until after the show.

Next came Stone Gods! I loved how their bass drum had the band name on it, I always think that’s so cool. There was a bit of intro music before they actually came on, then they opened with Burn the Witch, the first song on their album. It was getting me all excited – owning the album meant I knew their songs, and could get into them easily. The next song they played was You Brought a Knife to a Gun Fight, one of my favourites.

I’m annoyed with myself, though. I can’t remember all of the songs Stone Gods played, or the order in which they played them, or what happened when. I just remember a load of random bits and pieces, which I will detail now.

I only remember five other songs for certain: Start of Something, I’m With the Band, Defend or Die, Knight of the Living Dead and, of course, Don’t Drink the Water. If I’d got the album more than five days before the show I’d probably have known and remembered the set better.

However, I will work with what I have.

One of my best friends has a massive thing for Dan Hawkins, so I made sure I had a few pictures and videos of him especially for her. Personally I think he’s ugly, but a great guitarist who played well with his crowd and not at them. I often saw the standing people gathering to mosh around him when he got up on the monitors.

I thought the singer/guitarist, Richie Edwards, was really cool. He was a good frontman who worked us, the crowd, like he was headlining and not just support. I’m sure at one point he acknowledged me and my sister – everyone on the balcony apart from us was being pretty boring and quiet.

Richie asked us who owned the album. We yelled and waved. Apparently though, the album was being sold at the venue for a credit crunch beating price of seven pounds, and not enough of us had it already.

It was fun swearing, both verbally and with our fingers, during You Brought a Knife to a Gun Fight. But I think the song I enjoyed the most was actually Don’t Drink the Water. There was a little tutorial on how to sing along – there’s a few ‘oi’s at the end of lines that we had to yell. And on the funky dancey bit, Richie got the whole floor dancing. It looked absolutely mint.

They didn’t play the whole album, though, so it was soon over. It had been an amazing set, almost as though they were joint headliners with Airbourne because everyone had been really involved. My voice was almost completely gone, and my throat was sore, worrying me a bit. I wanted some voice left for Airbourne: however, I’m weird, so I also wanted to lose my voice for the next day. It gradually came back, though. wanted a drink but none of us had one and I couldn’t be bothered to move.

There were a few songs played over the sound system whilst the stage was being set for the headliners. The played Wasted Years – me and Amy were singing and headbanging like we were actually watching Iron Maiden play it live. It almost made up for the fact that I didn’t know the song as well at Twickenham.

After that, they played Overkill by Motörhead. It was amazing. The bass was so immensely loud that it sounded like thunder. Or like the venue was falling down. Luckily it wasn’t, but the illusion was pretty cool.

I can’t remember any more of the songs that played, only the three I mentioned. All I know is that after Overkill there weren’t many songs left.

The stage was all set like the video for Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast. Right before they were due to come on, we could see them from the angle we were at, just behind the amps. We watched them getting ready excitedly.

Then the lights went down.

Airbourne had a bit of intro music like Stone Gods. It was weird, because it sounded like them, but it was pre-recorded. Because I was ready, I managed to get a (crappy) video of the start on my phone. It’s on YouTube!

The lights came on to reveal the four of them, and we went mental. As on the album, they started with Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll, a song made to open with. Just the intro gets you so worked up you want to run around like a crazy fool. Building up to when the song gets going, all I wanted to do was jump to my feet: but there was a yellow-vested security guard watching over us, and I knew that if we tried any such thing we’d be yelled at. So instead of standing up for rock ‘n’ roll, I stretched my arms up as far as I could and screamed along.

I rang my friend Rich during this song, as I’d promised by text earlier. He texted me saying it sounded good, and to enjoy the rest of the concert.

After the first song, we gave the guys an immense cheer. The volume was through the roof, even louder than the two supports. There was a ringing in my ears even during the noise, it was just that loud.

I know Joel yelled stuff at us at this point. But he often yelled stuff at us, he was a very friendly man. So I’m not sure exactly what he yelled when. I do know that he drank a lot, though – and chucked a lot of booze out as well.

The next song they played was Hellfire. Strange, as it’s the last one on the album, but fine in the show. I think it was after this that Joel cracked open his first can and said ‘Cheers, Newcastle!’ Every time he addressed us he literally screamed. It was so funny. We couldn’t understand him half the time.

Fat City came next. This was fun – I love how it’s called that because it makes me think of a city full of fat people.

After that was their third single from the album, Diamond in the Rough. Proper solid rock ‘n’ roll, good for shouting the extremely singable chorus. My voice was back especially for the set, and now I was glad.

The tempo slowed, but the solid rock remained for What’s Eatin’ you, a song I knew but not as well as the others. There’s always a song like that – one that, for some reason, just doesn’t stick in my head, no matter how much I listen to it.

Girls in Black was the song I’d dressed for, and it came next. I’m pretty sure Joel was shirtless by this point, but he probably had been for a while. Amy and me were almost dancing along to this, two girls in black. Of course, we couldn’t stand. All the fist pumping was making my arms ache, but oh well. You only get out what you put in.

They really slowed down Cheap Wine and Cheaper Women. It sounded strange – good, though. Another fantastic chorus to yell to. I particularly loved the line ‘she loved me tender, and she f*cked me sweet’, one that Joel changed, and sang, with relish. There was also the classic bit towards the end: ‘Women come and go…’ which he sort of spoke matter-of-factly. It was funny, it sounded like he was speaking from experience. Which, being a rock star, he probably was.

I don’t have a particular favourite Airbourne song, but if I did, it would have to be Heartbreaker. I think there’s something about the vocals – they sound a bit sad, but awesome at the same time. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is about this song, though. Maybe it’s to do with the melody itself, it really gets to me.

Possibly their most famous song drew a massive roar from the crowd. The song the stage was set up for. Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast. I was thinking about the video during the live performance. I tend to get psyched knowing the band from the video and the band in front of me are exactly the same. They really recreated the video, too, Roadsy and Streety doing the dual-headswirling thing. Mind you, all three of them did that a lot. Joel even got up on one of the big blocky things … erm, yeah, he did that a few times and all. I remember during the first bit of the first chorus, at the line ‘I’ll sit and spin for a little while’, he twirled his finger. I don’t know why that’s important. It’s just something I remember. I rang my friend Beth during this song, too – she bought me the album for my birthday.

After that song, though, came the end of the show. We cheered for a bit, Joel said thank you, and they went off. Luckily, as us Airbourne fans are not stupid, we knew they still had to play two more songs, so we didn’t give up, chanting and screaming for more.

And they returned! One by one.

First Ryan, on the drums, tapping out the rhythm for Runnin’ Wild. Then Streety, slamming on the bass. This went on for a while, until the guitars joined in, eventually becoming the intro and receiving a wild reaction from us. If Airbourne have ever recorded ‘genuine fist-pumping, sweat-soaked rock ‘n’ roll’, this is it. Full of energy.

But that just left one song. Another energetic number, Blackjack, maybe to tire us out. It’s a fun song, though. And even though I was pretty much worn out in the arm area, I didn’t put them down.

And that really was the end. They went off, and the house lights came on, and we knew they wouldn’t be coming back again. I wasn’t too sad, though. It had been a hell of a night.

I know that was basically just a detailed setlist, making the show sound boring. It was anything but that. I know it’s now become a cliché to mention this band when talking about Airbourne, but it reminded me of an early AC/DC show. Joel came into the crowd a couple of times, like Angus used to. Only Joel pulled a pint and soloed at the same time as well. He was absolutely crazy! It’s the only word for it.

There was quite a lot of booze in the show, actually. Joel drank a lot, sent a lot spinning out into the crowd, and poured a lot on his head. I liked it when he did this – he then swirled his head around so his hair flew all over the place and sprayed beer everywhere. It looked really cool.

Near the end of the show, Joel talked about real rock ‘n’ roll, and how we all believed in it. He yelled for quite a while – I didn’t catch half of it, but I got the gist, and that was enough.

I rang home during the show as well. As no one was in, the messages Amy and I left are still on the phone. There’s Diamond in the Rough, Cheap Wine and Cheaper Women and Heartbreaker (twice – one message entirely solo and the other the chorus).

And that’s all I can think about now, so I’ll leave the show there. It was brilliant.

We walked back to the car. Newcastle was full of young adults out drinking, but waves of rockers soon dispersed and evened out the chavs. The air outside was warmer than we’d expected of a late November night (Dad and Amy had had a mini-argument about jackets earlier).

I sent this message to a few of my friends:

Walking back to the car, airbourne rocked my socks and bed! I’m of course joking, but that Joel is pretty awesome! Going to a few people xxx Laura was the only one who replied, but between then and now I accidentally deleted her message.

I can’t remember much about the journey home. My ears were ringing but my throat wasn’t at all sore or dry. Amy fell asleep in the car so I just talked to Dad.

So we got home. I had a drink, and went to bed. I was sort of glad we didn’t have a(nother) hellishly long, depressing journey home, but the car had been nice and warm. Plus, although I didn’t know it then, that was the last journey I ever made in our Vauxhall Vectra (Dad bought a Land Rover Discovery the next day).

I wrote in my two diaries:

AIRBOURNE! What a strange day. I got up, went to college and went to work as usual, but then I came home from work early and went to Newcastle to see Airbourne at Carling Academy – awesome venue and the band were brilliant, really enjoyed myself. Stone Gods good too.


AIRYBOURNE … put on a genuinely awesome rock ‘n’ roll show, shame we couldn’t stand but I’m pretty sure Joel saw us anyway.

This last entry also contained a ‘0’. 0 days until Airbourne.

And that’s it. I wore my shirt the next day, along with a headache and sore eyes. It was totally worth it. Go and see Airbourne live if you love proper rock!

*When Joel pulled the pint, we stood up and were allowed to for a while ... until the yellow man eventually gave up and sat us down.
*We managed to give them a standing ovation at the end, though
* I started this on Thursday, 18th November. It is now Sunday, 1st February (Tuesday, 10th second draft). The other one only took just over a week because I had a lot of free time in Seahouses.
*Therefore, only one draft of this took about 66 days compared to about 10 for three drafts of Maiden...
*Finally my friend Laurence, who helped me with my last gig account, attended this same show but at London Astoria. Because it was Airbourne's last UK show, Dan Hawkins came on at the end and played guitar with them, leaving Joel to just sing. They played Whole Lotta Rosie. I am jealous.

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