There’s an anomaly in rock. Rock fans can never agree on anything. Mainly because we’re a patchwork quilt of all walks of life. Yet, there’s one band universally loved by rock fans: AC/DC. Joe Public may not enjoy them and would rather be watching Kanye West murder “Bohemian Rhapsody” at Glastonbury but when it comes down to it, if you’re a rock fan; you like AC/DC. Tell me you don’t. Hell, keep telling yourself that.
As Wildfire Festival took in its last day with a mighty line-up, a living, breathing force of nature were ripping apart Hampden Park. Glasgow was a hive of energy. Black t-shirts, many with AC/DC or Angus Young emblazoned on them. And those who didn’t still had a band t-shirt of some form. As The Answer’s Micky Waters told us in March, it took over the entire city. With a quick bite to eat and then into the stadium itself with a friend I hadn’t seen in about four years, the pitch was already rammed with people.
Opening for AC/DC were Vintage Trouble. One of those bands I always happen to miss. Fresh from their Glastonbury performance, they were welcomed onto the stage with bagpipes. Bands, can you stop with that? It always goes down well and it makes the cynic in me think bands do it to get the crowd on their side before they’ve even begun their performance. As if Glasgow would be forgiving. That said, Vintage Trouble were a brilliant opening act. Bursting with energy and completely unnerved by the masses of people, their James Brown-inspired blues and soul was a breath of fresh air for me. Strutting around the stage on a humid evening, the sweat was pouring freely from vocalist Ty Taylor.
It was the kind of support slot which passed in a blur, despite being on stage for 45 minutes. It felt about a third of that; such is the quality of their songs. Complete with Mexican waves and Ty Taylor roaming around the crowd in a lengthy crowd surf, they were happy to plant their flag and hope their name stuck in the minds of a stadium full of people here to see arguably the biggest rock band in the world.
As the atmosphere became palpable, AC/DC began with a bang in the form of fireworks as they jumped onto the stage, “Rock or Bust” beginning the proceedings. As pints of liquid were thrown around, becoming a victim myself (I know mine was simply beer!), AC/DC proved that despite recent events and their age, they still know how to dominate a crowd.
I’ve never seen AC/DC so this was always going to be something special. And indeed it was. With a barrage of hits and favourites, I can’t say I left Hampden Park wishing for other songs to be played. Songs like “Shoot to Thrill”, “Thunderstruck” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train” remind you of the might of AC/DC. Meanwhile Bon Scott’s contribution is never forgotten with songs like “Let There Be Rock”, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and in memory of him, “Have a Drink On Me”. It doesn’t need to be said at this point but Brian Johnson really does Scott’s vocals justice whilst never trying to emulate his inimitable voice.
There’s minimal stage theatrics with the exception of screens showing the band with different filters, an inflatable Rosie during “Whole Lotta Rosie” and a clanging bell during “Hells Bells”. It proves that if the music is good enough, you don’t need to rely on props and a show. The band are there to play and that should suffice.
Like the recent Rock or Bust album, the band has an obvious Malcolm Young shaped hole. One that is clearly never going to be replaced. Much like his uncle, Stevie Young hammers his rhythm guitar in a fairly stationary position as Angus Young does all the showboating. Despite their age, they played with the joy and energy of men half their age, Chris Slade barely straining to play his drumkit.
With a lengthy guitar solo, “Highway to Hell” and “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”, followed by a barrage of fireworks where the stage became obscured by smoke, it was time to say good night. With the band firing on all cylinders and constant talk of this being the last tour, I’m glad I got the chance to see one of my all-time favourite bands. Sometimes bands of their status fail to live up to the sheer hype upon them but having loved their music for years and hearing constantly of how good they are live; it’s well deserved.