It had been thirty five years since I’d been to a really huge concert, the last one being Emerson Lake & Palmer back around this time in 1974. I’ve always liked AC/DC although I wouldn’t claim to be their biggest fan, but when a friend asked if I’d like to go and see them at the O2 Arena I jumped at the chance. So on Tuesday afternoon we trogged off to Londinium to see the show.
The support band was The Answer, from Belfast, and I’m sure they’ll go far. The singer sings in a Robert Plant style, nasally, a style that has never done Robert any harm. For all I know they could well be big already, but if they keep it up no doubt they will be filling arenas in their own right one day.
AC/DC were everything you’d expect. They are not the most innovative of rockers but they have a winning formula and they deliver it with great precision. There is no mistaking who the star of the show is and that’s Angus Young. If you don’t know who Angus is then if I say he’s the guitarist who wears the blazer, short trousers, school cap and satchel you’ll know, unless of course you have absolutely no interest in the popular culture of rock-a-boogie.
I remembered why I don’t go to large arena concerts when I got there. Even in the decent seats you are still a long way away from the stage. Most of my concert going is to smaller venues, I like the intimate feel, and I like to see the whites of their eyes! Although distant you could still appreciate the action, and the large screens that flashed with graphics and close-ups all add to the experience and ensure that you miss nothing. The show started with a short animation, staring Angus obviously, about a runaway train and inspired by the latest album. It builds up the tension very well the train crashes, the stage lights up and the band start to play. The set is a mix of old favourites and samples from their latest waxing - something for everyone.
Apart from some lengthy pauses between songs the show was perfect. They are a well rehearsed band with a tight road crew/organisation. The lighting, graphics, pyrotechnics and even the not so tasteful inflatable Rosie were all slotted in seamlessly along the concert timeline.
Brian Johnson, the lead singer struts, well waddles really, around the stage wearing his trademark cloth cap and sporting a six pack that probably owes more to the likes of Newkie Brown rather than any gym. He knows his place. I suspect when the Ex-Geordie singer was recruited to the band after Bon Scott’s death he was told not to ‘hog the limelight’. Meanwhile Angus dominates the proceedings through his undoubted skill and sheer energy. Having said that I don’t think I’m completely sold on the merits of his strip-tease although I did think it was a nice touch when he dropped his trousers to reveal the AC/DC logo on the arse of his pants.
In theory I shouldn’t really like AC/DC but I always have. I bought their first album on vinyl at the time of its release, when they were relatively unknown. They are the musical equivalent of Jeremy Clarkson. Their show is mighty on the macho. Macho by definition borders on the misogynistic which obviously fills me with unease. But on a baser level I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Oh the angst of the white middle-class middle-aged ponderer!
Brand AC/DC is a powerful and lucrative brand to be sure. It does what it says on the label and as a result I suspect that many a happy punter went home that night from the concert. I know I enjoyed it. My hearing didn’t recover for a day and a half. Boy, were they loud!