We were prepared to rock and AC/DC saluted us.
As the ballerinas cleared the stage, a lute wielding Angus Young
launched into a freestyle-jazz cover of Kanye West’s 'New Slaves' much to the crowd’s delight. Not really of course, this was an AC/DC gig. If you don’t know what’s coming with AC/DC by now, then your inability to read social clues must make it difficult to remember to wear clothes each day.
As I approached the venue, I got a brief glimpse of how the apocalypse may look. One man, being carried by two others in the opposite direction of the venue as he alternated between singing and swearing had peaked too soon, sure to regret his misguided drinking pace in the morning.Image © Lachlan Douglas
The venue itself was populated by a sea of flashing devils horns and a near-uniform sea of AC/DC t-shirts. Generations stood side by side as parents beamed with glazed smiles next to their nervous looking teenagers, a rites of passage passed on from parent to child through the medium of massive riffs.
The buzz around the stadium was huge, The Hives
not having to do much to get the crowd riled up despite most people either not knowing who they were or wondering if it was still 2001.The Hives - Image © Lachlan Douglas
As those in an elevated position saw the golf carts backstage charioting the band to their rightful position, the cheers spread through the crowd like an audible Mexican Wave. Not ones to shy from pomp, as the house lights dropped, the screens filled with a video detailing AC/DC’s little known role in the first moon landings followed by an appropriate burst of pyrotechnics as the band took to the stage.
It was played out at a deafening volume, a heads-up that even though this was an outdoor gig, there was no way AC/DC were going to be anything but loud. With Malcolm Young
sadly having to retire from the band for health reasons, any concerns that this would affect the dynamic of the band were quickly dispelled with a gargantuan rendition of 'Rock Or Bust'.Image © Lachlan Douglas
With a wall of Marshall amplifiers piled high at the back of the stage, the opening notes that explode from Angus’s Gibson guitar felt like it was peeling the skin back from your face, as though sticking your head in a jet engine. Despite his 60 years of debauched living, Angus bounds around the stage in his velour school-uniform outfit with trademark youthful abandon, singer Brian Johnson
joining him in his hyperactivity levels.Image © Lachlan Douglas
The rest of the band are relegated to a small space at the back to make space for Young and Johnson to bound across the stage as though combining a cardio class with their performance. A phallic stage extension protrudes from the stage, sitting low at the crowd level, waiting for its inevitable rise as yet more romping ground for Young to explore.
The set is a whistle stop tour of the highlights of the back catalogue, certain tracks emphasised with visual accompaniment to drill home their significance. Whether it was the lightning for 'Thunderstruck', the massive swinging bell for 'Hells Bells', the explosions for 'T.N.T.', or the giant inflatable Rosie for 'Whole Lotta Rosie', the symbolism leaves nothing to the imagination.Image © Lachlan Douglas
The crowd reaction is as positive as you’d expect, with the big screens giving air time to the crowd reactions as part of the rotation, often with the inclusion of impromptu breast flashes. It’s as though we’re in an 1980s bubble, where stadium rock never died, and it’s exactly what the crowd wants.
An extended guitar solo to close out 'Let There Be Rock' sees the stage extension put to good use as Young wails on his guitar as though his life depended on it. In many ways, it may well do.Image © Lachlan Douglas
With an encore of 'Highway To Hell' and 'For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)', it’s a huge ending to a fantastic show. Though few words were spoken by the band between songs, Johnson takes a moment early on to admit “Brisbane, it’s been too long”. Never a truer word has been spoken.