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Thursday, 21 April 2011

AC/DC - Hampden - 30/6/09 (Glasgow)

I was lucky enough to be at Hampden Stadium in Glasgow last night to witness AC/DC on the last night of their hugely successful Black Ice tour. The tour that’s rumoured to be the last that they will do.
If this is the case then I’m struggling to wrap my head around it.
Did I just see the last show that AC/DC will ever do?
What would the world be like without AC/DC in it? Whether you are a fan or not it’s still difficult to imagine that. They’re the last of a dying breed. The last of the great balls to the wall rock behemoths.
In the cold light of day I’m struggling to think of another rock band of their stature that exists in the world today.
It’s just hit me why I'm struggling though. It’s simply because there aren’t any.
No one does it like AC/DC.
Of course there are big rock bands, but none of them come close to what these guys do.
Is there really another band of their ilk that could tour country after country playing to sold out stadiums that hold anything upwards of 50,000 fans nightly?
I don’t think so.
So what is the attraction?
Why do the band hold such sway over so many people from all walks of life.
I guess the answer is in you having to be there to experience it.
I’m not even sure myself what I was expecting yesterday, but when I arrived in Glasgow it seemed that every third person was wearing an AC/DC t-shirt.
The band had quite literally taken over the city.
You could hear them playing from shops as you wandered by.
People were walking about with little red devil horns on and I lost count of kids dressed in the classic Angus Young schoolboy outfit.
It was like an alternative reality where AC/DC are the leaders of a religion and people are encouraged to publicly worship them.
I suppose that could sound sinister, but with the sun out and the inoffensively joyous way that the fans conducted themselves it really just engendered a wonderful carnival atmosphere.
I was hours away from seeing the band and the buzz was already well in evidence.
Catching the train from Glasgow Central to Mount Florida was an experience in itself.
A section of the train station was actually sectioned off with barriers for the AC/DC crowd.
A line snaked all the way out of the station with literally hundreds of fans arriving every minute.
Inside the train itself it was wall to wall fans and the heat was terrific.
In any other circumstances, like a football match, it would have been a powder keg waiting for the spark to set it off, but there was no negativity in that train at all.
Instead it was bonhomie* all the way.
Outside Hampden itself, it was a reflection of Glasgow’s city centre, but multiplied by ten.
If aliens landed then they would be forgiven for thinking that a take me to your leader request would have resulted in a meeting with a 53 year old man dressed as a schoolboy.
None of this should make any sense at all, but once you are in the stadium and the Rock and Roll train footage starts on the large screens and the excitements mounts resistance is futile and it’s best to just let yourself get swept away on a wave of collective euphoria.
When Angus Young resplendent in crushed velvet shorts and blazer puts a foot on the stage the place erupts and if there was a roof it would have been jettisoned from the venue.
There is no let up from that moment on.
This is the third time I’ve seen Brian Johnson lead AC/DC into the fray and it was by far the best.
I’ve been critical in the past and always considered him more of a shouter than a singer, but not tonight.
His throaty bluesy voice was powerful and even soulful in places. It was a faultless performance that would effortlessly silence his detractors if they had been there to see it.
The rest of the band are like a machine. They always have been, but there is something solid and reliable in what they do. Malcolm, Phil and Cliff are the engine that drives AC/DC and while it would be easy to gloss over their contribution it has to be said that AC/DC wouldn’t be the band they are without them.
The night was however always going to be Angus Young’s.
He commands the audiences attention. He struts, he skips, he gurns and sweats buckets for the crowd. He literally gives it his all. Nothing is held back and maybe this is where the magic lies.
How can an audience not respond when a person gives them their heart and soul?
It’s inconceivable how he can do this night after night. It verges on suicidal. His body is being punished and it is all for us.
Remember that this guy is 53. Fuck Iggy Pop. Bending over backwards and kicking your legs out just doesn’t cut it anymore. Get in the ring with Angus and he will run rings round you. He will wear you out. He’s the roadrunner while we are the Coyote stooges.
You would expect that there would be something ludicrous about his antics, but there’s not. There isn’t even a hint of it. He knows it’s a joke. We know it’s a joke, but the serious side is it looks like he will willingly drop dead on the stage to give us what we want.
By the time they steamrolled into my favourite track ‘The Jack’ I was transported back to when going to see bands made me ill with excitement. I still love going, but it is rare that I can touch with that younger self. Yet here I was, heart in mouth, roaring the words and pumping my fist in the air.
There isn’t even a highlight I could point to as it was all a highlight.
The band were immense. Rock colossi honouring us with their presence. The stage show was as over the top as you would expect. For those about to Rock had the cannons, Hells bells had the bell with Brian Johnson swinging from it., Rosie had……….well a huge inflatable tart. What would you expect? and the CGI footage that would put a smile on a bells palsy victim.
Even the fireworks were perfect. Maybe the Olympic committee could hire the AC/DC team to do the opening ceremony in London.
Last night I was thinking that this must be up there in my top ten gigs of all time, but this morning I’m thinking it could be right up there at the top.
I’ll have to wait till I’ve come down a bit and take into consideration that I’m writing this in the afterglow.
By Christ that was a bloody fantastic gig.

* and that’s the only Bon I’ll mention.


  1. Just as a side note re the Iggy comment. After that I had the pleasure to see Iggy fronting the Stooges in London and I don't feel the same way now. Both are over the top rock and rollers.

  2. Great write up! Love AC/DC!!! Let's hope that this is not the end of their touring....I still need to see them. Yep, I have never seen them!