The walk from Southern Cross Station to Etihad Stadium is a kind of rock pilgrimage for us AC/DC fans. We made that walk back in 2010 for the highly anticipated Black Ice tour, and we were busting with anticipation to make it all over again on Sunday night.
We passed Cookie Monster playing a rousing rendition of ‘Thunderstruck’’s lightening fast guitar lick on the bagpipes, and not too far away, Super Mario doing an equally stirring version of ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’’s bagpipe section on guitar. No one battered an eyelid because this was an Acca Dacca concert after all. It was the mandatory black tee for as far as the eye could see amongst the mixed crowd descending upon the Docklands venue. Young kids donned schoolboy getups whilst their Dads proudly wore original band shirts from their own youth.
Melbourne rockers KINGSWOOD kicked off the balmy night with a swag of their latest hits. Despite a shocking sound (as is the norm for support acts), a few fan favourites were audible bouncing around the open roof arena, including ‘Micro Wars’, ‘ICSTYDLM’, ‘Sucker Punch’ and Fergus Linacre‘s fun falsetto number ‘Ohio’.
Swedish garage rock band The Hives pranced out to a slightly better sound system in their matching white suits. Charismatic (but borderline annoying) frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist spent the entire set either singing or talking, attempting to rouse the mosh-pit. It was an a-ha moment when songs like ‘Tick Tick Boom’ and ‘Come On!’ dropped, most recognised from car commercials on the telly. Unfortunately for my section of the crowd at least, the set was a mere backdrop to a more immediate event – St Johns ambos working on a young woman with a suspected overdose whilst Police questioned and handcuffed her much older male companion.
As night began to finally fall, the glowing bright red flash of ingenious novelty devil horns lit up the entire arena and the faux corrugated iron arch of the stage began to spark and splutter into life. Cheers erupted from the heaving crowd and sign of the horns hand gestures were raised high as a deliciously self-indulgent introductory video played from the massive side screens.
Then, the band we’d all been waiting for for five whole years emerged – and we lost our shit! The loud electric growl of the opening riff to ‘Rock or Bust’ boomed across the stadium, and little legend Angus Young duck-walked to centre stage. In his iconic velvet red blazer, shorts, striped school tie and hat, he scanned the crowd with a pouting snarl while his precious guitar hands went off and did their own thing.
Gravelly and gruff frontman Brian Johnson shrieked from under his grey newsboy cap, hip-swaying in tight jeans and an even tighter black tee, whilst new-ish drummer Chris Slade loomed large in the background. A little pang of sadness come over us as gun rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young’s absence was fully realised on stage, but his nephew Stevie Young did a pretty good job filling his small but powerful shoes. Longtime bassist Cliff Williams did his bit too. They were oh so loud and oh so proud.
‘Back in Black’ – Johnson’s first Acca Dacca outing back in 1980 – dropped early, complete with black & white visuals and flamboyant rock poses from Angus during his howling solo (and probably wisely, there’s no more head-banging from the 60 year old). New hit ‘Play Ball’ followed next after about a minute break (which became the standard between songs, most likely because of the band’s ageing status). But old and incapable they are not, with Angus especially up and about and as creative as ever – playing his guitar with his tie at one point during ‘Sin City’!
Collectively, AC/DC’s mumbly belligerent bellows signalled ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ before the stage crackled and popped electric blue to the sound of ‘Thunderstruck’. The crowd screamed “THUNDER!” as a sweaty Angus attacked the fretboard single-handedly (literally), ripping into that iconic lick we all know and love through munching, manic expressions. ‘High Voltage’ and ‘Hells Bells’ came thick and fast, with the latter’s giant bell prop receiving a collective bow down.
‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ and ‘T.N.T’ were splintered by some Bon Scott era hits, with Johnson’s angry Elmo vocals only just holding up. The iconic inflatable big and breast-y Rosie popped up for ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, before Angus unleashed a whooping spontaneous solo at the end of ‘Let There Be Rock’ – his Countdown cheeky chappy persona still very much alive in his smirking and beckoning call-and-response antics.
The encore was a two-parter epic, kicking off with ‘Highway to Hell’ before the cannons and pyrotechnics rolled out for an earth-shattering finale, ‘For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)’. Angus rose above the adoring, head banging crowd on a rising platform, soloing and writhing on his back on the floor as golden fireworks and confetti shot up around him.
Acca Dacca sure know how to put on a blistering show – another baptism by rock n’ roll fire for us hardcore followers. Fans frothed at a generous set of classics, and Angus – once again – proved why he is one of the best guitarists and entertainment agitators in the world. AC/DC – we salute you!