London rockers Airforce are back with the bit between their teeth and a new live album to be hawked; I reviewed their last studio album, Strike Hard, for Sentinel Daily when it came out last year and found it to be solid, unpretentious fare with the odd NWoBHM flourish; here the band share the best tracks from that album as well as tracks from their 2016 debut performed for an enthusiastic audience and Polish radio.
On reflection the band thought the performance good enough for commercial release, and you can see why after a few listens. The band offer no-frills takes on the songs’ studio counterparts, with Chop Pitman‘s beefy riffs forming the spine of each track. He’s an unfussy player who doesn’t overplay, and his spartan chug is a real mainstay of many of the songs in tandem with bassist Tony Hatton. In concert with drummer Doug Sampson this trio provide a powerful bedrock over which singer Flávio Lino belts out the bands’ tunes of war.
Lino is a real find – those of you paying attention last year will remember he appeared on the Portuguese version of The Voice singing Judas Priest‘s Painkiller – and whilst his similarity to Bruce Dickinson in his pomp when unleashing unfettered wails was clearly a major selling point to the rest of the band when looking for a new set of pipes to work with, the man mercifully uses this weapon only when he needs to, preferring to use a lower register for most of the time which is actually a bit closer to – wait for it – Blaze Bayley than it is to Bruce.
First track Fight is a well chosen set-opener, whilst the band reaffirm their classic metal credentials with the powerful mid set one-two of Wargames and Son of the Damned, before ending with an extended reading of perhaps their best known track Sniper. They clearly know how to pace a set well, and bow out leaving the Polish audience crying out for more. I would have been too, but I just had to press play again to relive the experience.
Clearly live is where the Airforce experience makes most sense, and I look forward to catching the band in their natural habitat when things get back to normal. But for now, this will have to do.
Live Locked N’ Loaded In Poland Lublin Radio is out now.