Rock ‘n’ roll will never die

A Review of Flash Lightnin’, The Glorious Sons & Airbourne at Cactus Jacks Nightclub

Airbourne's Joel O'Keeffe takes a moment to spray the fans at Cactus Jack's nightclub with beer as the doorman looks on. (Kim Anderson/The Omega)

Airbourne’s Joel O’Keeffe takes a moment to spray the fans at Cactus Jack’s nightclub with beer as the doorman looks on. (Kim Anderson/The Omega)

The smell of Jägermeister hit my nostrils immediately.

When I walked into Cactus Jacks on Tuesday, Sept. 16, something was different. Looking around the club I noticed there was a different crowd in that night. CJs was filled with legions of bearded, band t-shirt sporting rockers. While there was a mix of ages, the overall demographic was a bit older than usual. Why the shift? CJs was hosting a night of good, old-fashioned, dirty rock ‘n’ roll.

Flash Lightnin’ and The Glorious Sons opened for Airbourne in a night filled with head-banging, moshing, “pit-beers,” and one bloody guitar.

Flash Lightnin’

Toronto, ON group Flash Lightnin’ got the crowd at CJs moving with their fast-paced brand of rock. Vocalist and guitarist Darren Glover, bassist Darcy Yates and producer/drummer Gavin Brown played an energetic set to open the show. The spotlight was on Glover’s powerful and unique voice and his intricate guitar riffs. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the whole set, but judging by the feedback the audience was giving them, they did their job and they did it well.

Like their name suggests, Flash Lightnin’ took the stage and shocked the audience’s senses, as lighting would.

The Glorious Sons

The Glorious Sons of Kingston, Ont. took the stage next. Without an introduction or greeting to the crowd, frontman Brett Emmons and company began their set with “Heavy” from their new album “The Union.” “Heavy” is a call to arms for rockers, and commands the audience to “come heavy or don’t come at all,” which is exactly what they did.

The Glorious Sons play to a moshing crowd at CJs. (Kim Anderson/The Omega)

The Glorious Sons play to a moshing crowd at CJs. (Kim Anderson/The Omega)

The Glorious Sons play with an impressive cohesiveness that is usually gained over several years, not the mere three the band has been playing together. Brett Emmons has a dominant stage presence, and halfway through their set began a dialogue with the fans. He started talking about Gene Simmons and how recently Simmons claimed that rock ‘n’ roll is dead. “Gene Simmons has turned his back on rock ‘n’ roll, HAVE YOU? WHO HAS TURNED THEIR BACK ON ROCK?” Brett bellowed to the audience. The crowd whooped and yelled their approval to him. Brett then jumped from the stage to the speakers in front of the crowd barrier, inches from the fans and led his band into the next song.

The Glorious Sons is made up of Chris Huot on bass, Andrew Young on guitar, Jay Emmons on guitar, Adam Paquette on drums and Brett Emmons on lead vocals. They treated the audience to hits with radio recognition like “Mama,” “White Noise,” and also played lesser-known songs like “Ruby.”

The Glorious Sons brought nearly everyone in CJs to their feet and amped them up for the headliners.


The smoke machine started pumping, the bright, blue-ish white spotlights hit the stage and Australian rockers Airbourne charged out, instruments in hand. Frontman and lead guitarist Joel O’Keeffe leapt from the stage to the barrier, and began shredding his guitar to kick off their set.

Airbourne’s Joel O’Keeffe on lead guitar/vocals, David Roads on guitar, Justin Street on bass, and Ryan O’Keeffe on drums strike a glaring resemblance to the ubiquitously known, titans of rock: AC/DC. Airbourne’s relentless and heavy guitar riffs, chilling solos, rhythmic and systematic drums paired with Joel’s gritty vocals just begs the for comparison.

While Airbourne’s brand of rock continues the legacy that AC/DC started, their delivery style and music are uniquely their own. Airbourne is a classic rock ‘n’ roll band in every sense. They are a band that is totally in-sync with each other, musically speaking and with their on-stage behaviour.

Without warning, shirtless and sweaty frontman, Joel, ran off the stage, guitar in hand. He darted through the crowd and hoisted himself onto the bar. Shocked, the crowd and bartenders watched in awe as he played the remainder of the song from the bar.

Once he returned to the stage, the antics continued. He grabbed a can of Coors Light that the sound techs had strategically placed on stage ahead of time, jumped to the barrier and bashed it on his head until it exploded, then sprayed everyone in the front row. The fans literally drank it up and screamed for more.

Among many others, Airbourne played “No One Fits Me Better,” “Diamond in the Rough,” “Blonde, Bad and Beautiful,” and arguably their most well known hit, “Live it Up” for the encore.

While they couldn’t rally the mosh pit into a wall of death, Airbourne treated the approximately 350 fans at Cactus Jack’s to a night of good, old-fashioned, head-banging rock ‘n’ roll. The blood splattered across Joel’s white Gibson Explorer, he earned from rocking a little too hard, is proof enough.