AC/DC – Glasgow, Dublin and London 2015 Review
AC/DC must surely rank as one of the greatest bands of all time! Formed in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young with Dave Evans initially on vocals, followed by Bon Scott from 1974 until his untimely death in 1980, and for the last thirty five years fronted by Geordie-man Brian Johnson. If you want to find our more about the band’s history read one of many books out there, or look on Wikipedia here. Whilst Angus is still very much part of the band and, without doubt, it wouldn’t be the same without him; Malcolm was forced to retire due to ill health in 2014. Keeping it in the family nephew Stevie Young has taken over the role of rhythm guitarist. With drummer Phil Rudd unable to play this tour, Chris Slade who has played with AC/DC several times before took over the drumming stool and whilst not an original member Cliff Williams has played bass with the band since 1977!
Seventeenth studio album Rock or Bust was released on 1st December 2014, reviewed on PlanetMosh here. Followed by an extensive world tour this year, covering Europe and North America. The European dates have seen them play Scotland, Ireland and England but not Wales this time around. I went to the England show in Wembley on the 4th July 2015, not on a press pass just as a fan but I couldn’t let this occasion go unnoticed by PlanetMosh. Rather than doing a full blown review of Wembley only, I’m doing an overall review of all three gigs, which includes observations and comments by friends, fans and fellow PlanetMosh writers in their own words. We didn’t get a photo pass so the pictures are not the best quality but should give you a feel for what it was like to be there in the crowd!
Although there was no gig in Wales I have got a Welsh view point as my friend Arwel went to the gig at Hampden Park, Glasgow. An AC/DC virgin and this is what he had to say:
Arwel: I’d seen a lot of fans in the city, some looking lost, some drinking. Once I got off the bus, about 7pm, there were hoards of fans streaming to the stadium, all well behaved, I may add. I took some pictures of the ground, fans, tour buses and HGVs as a reminder. Once I got in, Vintage Trouble were playing. I thought they were very good; someone described the lead singer as a cross between Sam Cooke and Led Zep(??!!). Found my seat adjacent to the tunnel and waited. Saw the support band being ferried from backstage to the tunnel area; realised that’s where the bands relaxed. Tried to see AC/DC being collected but they were too quick. 8:15 came and their video intro played – brilliant! I think they opened with Rock or Bust, all a blur, I’m afraid. Dirty Deeds, Thunderstruck, Shook me all night long, Highway to Hell amongst others. Pyrotechnics, cannons, solos and a few bars of Loch Lomond with the fans singing along. Sadly 10.15 came and it was over. My first time in Glasgow, first time in Hampden, first stadium gig and first AC DC concert.
Another friend Max took his eleven year old son to his first gig and what better way to break your gig virginity than AC/DC. Here’s what Max thought:
Max: AC/DC at Scotland’s Hampden Park was always going to be extra special and for Jack my 11 year son it was going to be the first ‘Live Rock’ of his young life . We arrived at the stadium about 4 o’clock the place was absolutely buzzing a sea of AC/DC shirts for as far as you could see, friendly fans were ready for the MIGHTY AC/DC to take to the stage but first up Vintage Trouble (VT). VT hit the stage being escorted on by a piper who led them out on the stage , Ty and the boys rocked a very receptive crowd who had come from across the global as we could flags from every nation gathering . VT are a hard working blues rock n roll band who have supported the best in the business as well as their own. usually sold out, shows here in the UK , they really complemented the event as the metal tones of Nalle’s Gibson rocked the front row and beyond just in time for Ty, their Uber vocalist to surf out to the fans who made sure he felt the love for real rock n roll.
Just over an hour later, it was about to happen , the massive screens light up with all types of AC/DC Images, spacemen, fire and brimstone were let loose, BOOM, AC/DC charged the stage straight into Rock or Bust, Jack was in complete amazement as the mighty Angus rocked the crowd clad in his usual attire. Brian’s vocals are amazing, gritty hard rock tones that have made AC/DC one of biggest rock bands on planet earth.
The occasion was a spectacular with every DC hit and some we weren’t expecting but for Jack and I, Thunderstruck was epic, the intro riff made the crowd go wild, Angus duck walking across the stage like a mad man, Brian and the lads powering out metal to smash the crowds into pieces, it was simply outstanding. Rosie makes her appearance from behind the Marshall stack, begging for business and smiling away without a care in the world, the stadium was blasting out Angus, Angus!!! into the air with fists raised high. Angus was on fire loving ever second of the chant, solo’s, rising stage sets and confetti rained down on the masses they loved it! Jack was now in AC/DC overdrive, horns up and rockin’ out, what a first gig for my young rock god to experience. The cannons followed, the crowd went crackers for more, at that we made for the exit, dashed out of the stadium, jumped into a taxi and that was it!!! Jacks final comment was ‘Dad’, (me – ‘Yes mate?’) ‘That was EPIC, thank you’ …’Pleasure Jack go forth and rock the rest of your life, tonight you have seen the best!’
Next I head over to Dublin and my colleague Steve was in attendance. This is what he had to say:
Steve: Just over 23 years since I saw AC/DC for the first time, they brought the Rock Or Bust World Tour to Dublin on July 1st. The Aviva Stadium was crammed with 65,000 people intent on having a party, and party they did with one of the greatest rock bands the planet has ever produced. From the first pyrotechnic blast right through to the blasting cannon finale, it was a show filled with fan favourites and a few new songs. It was the best that I’ve seen Brian Johnson in recent years, and his on-stage antics more than matched the usually overt Angus Young. The show was great but to be brutally honest, it was an awesome show for someone who hasn’t seen the band over the last 20 years or for someone seeing them for the first time. Unfortunately, for anyone who has seen them on recent tours, there is minimal changing to the setlist. People say if it’s not broken, don’t fix it and this is true for AC/DC, I would just love a little more variety. One song from a 27 year time period (Thunderstruck) is a pretty large oversight. Johnson struggled with his ear monitor and it affected his performance of ‘High Voltage‘. Slade seemed to get ahead of tempo on a few occasions and had to rein it in a little but hey these things happen, that’s live music for you.
Highlights were a special ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be‘, a roaring ‘Shot Down In Flames‘ and a rollicking ‘Let There Be Rock‘. I love AC/DC and always enjoy their shows, it just feels that nostalgia now rules supreme in their arena of rock. Is this this last time we’ll see them on the Emerald Isle? 65,000+ fans hope not.
Another colleague Simon was lucky enough to go to Dublin and Wembley as well as to one of the German dates!
Simon on Dublin Of the three UK and Ireland venues this is by far the best, maybe not as big but the acoustics are just great. The crowd was still pretty sparse even right up to the opening video sequence but as soon as the opening riff of Rock Or Bust kicked in the crowd exploded into life. Seeing Angus perform on stage, it is somewhat hard to believe that he can still exude so much energy and passion (the man’s sixty years old for crying out loud) but his passion is just so infectious that staying static in the crowd was not an option. A near flawless set, the glitch being Brian’s earpiece failing during High Voltage but that passed by with the vast majority not even noticing. As the clouds of cannon smoke slowly drifted across a moonlit sky, Dublin knew it had witnessed something rather special
Then we come to London and the Wembley show with Simon’s views on this show, those of my friend Phil, who is bass player in LedZep/DC a tribute to Led Zeppellin and AC/DC. (Although I’m sure you were able to work that one out!) Then, of course, I get the last word in, although why say in the one word ‘AWESOME’ what you can say in one thousand!
Simon on London: I had heard so many negative comments about the Wembley sound that I really did not know what to expect, good or bad, and to be honest, it was probably somewhere inbetween. Sat towards the rear of the stadium as I was, the sheer size of the crowd was pretty breathtaking, with enough twinkling red horns to light a Heathrow runway, here was a crowd out to party. As Rock Or Bust kicked in, a shimmering sea of bodies jumped up and down in unison, and the energy released from them was almost tangible. Hit after hit after hit, even if you were not a fan, I guarantee you would know well over half the setlist. Timeless music from a timeless band, yes I know it can’t go on forever but with rumours of dates for 2016 being at least discussed, maybe the Rock ‘N’ Roll Train hasn’t reached the end of the line just yet.
Phil: I’ve not seen ACDC since 1992 and was wondering if they still have the ability to rock my socks off, and as a bass player in a tribute band (LedZep/DC) I thought it was worth checking them out again to study Cliff Williams bass playing up close. From the moment they started all thoughts of this were gone, the energy and tightness of the band just swept you along, you just couldn’t help but smile at every riff. Stevie Young replaced Malcolm admirably and 3 songs in to the set (no disrespect to Malcolm meant here) you simply forgot that Malcolm wasn’t there, it shows the level and professionalism of AC/DC as a unit.
The set list was excellent, the performance energetic and tight, my only slight niggle was the sound was a bit distorted, it was well mixed, the balance was right, but it was distorted, overall a really good gig to have seen, and I thought they were better than in 1992, well worth seeing, they still ROCK.
Louise (me): I first saw AC/DC in 1982 when I’d just turned 15. I wasn’t actually a big fan at that time, I was more of a Motorhead fan, but the guys I knocked around with kept saying how great they were and that we had to see them; so my cousin Paula and I shelled out our £5.50 each for a ticket and went along to Leeds Queens Hall. To be honest although I think it was the Hells Bells tour and I seem to recall there being a bell, I don’t remember much else about it. I don’t remember not enjoying it so can’t have been bad! I became a massive AC/DC fan much later in life, in my thirties, after seeing an AC/DC tribute band perform Can I Sit Next To You Girl, which I loved instantly and one by one started buying all their albums. The second time I saw them was, therefore, nearly 27 years later on the Black Ice tour, by this time the ticket was £40 plus booking fee, and I know everyone says awesome, far too liberally but I was literally in awe! Well worth every penny. We then come to the Rock or Bust tour nearly 33 years since that first gig and this time my friend Chris, an AC/DC virgin, and I shelled out £65 each plus massive booking fees adding an extra £10 each! Luckily, for me, my brother has a pub in central London (The Queen’s Head) and I was able to employ some big sister bullying tactics, to insist he let us crash there, so I didn’t have to fork out for a hotel too.
No problem getting to Wembley Stadium via the tube to Wembley Park and a short stroll which had us arriving at 6ish. Found our seats on the very back row on the upper tier, which actually gave a great view of the stadium, although the figures on stage were minuscule there were screens relaying larger real time images, and much as I love small, dingy dives where you can get up within sweat sniffing distance, if you want to see AC/DC you have to go to a stadium or an arena and I wanted to be there! In fact nothing would have stopped me being there.
At around 7:20 we were asked ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, are you ready? Get your hands together for Vintage Trouble‘ and Los Angeles based VT described as a rhythm and blues/soul/rock /blues band hit the stage after a short Hound Dog intro. All suited and booted and looking very stylish with Ty in a black suit and red shirt. My friend was sat there with a miserable face on him, he thought they were “A bit too Motown, a bit Little Richard and not appropriate to support AC/DC” He said he wasn’t criticising their musicianship but thought they were an epic fail as something to warm a crowd up for AC/DC. Pesronally I enjoyed their seven song set and I thought Ty made an effort to get the crowd enthused, getting a Mexican wave going and his chants of AC had the audience chanting DC back to him. It was the kind of music I would have expected to hear as a soundtrack on a sixties movie and I particularly liked their final song Strike Your Light which was like a cross between I’ve Got A Woman by Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix’s Fire. I’d describe them as Motown infused rock and I’d happily see them again.
About 40 minutes later an epic success came in AC/DC’s intro which included the first man on the moon, a meteor, Rosie, the AC/DC bell and a runaway train. Some pyrotechnics and then there stood the only remaining original member, guitarist Angus Young in a red velvet, schoolboy uniform and a cap, possibly still the very uniform he wore back in 1973! Probably not, but whilst the face is a little more haggard, he’s still got the same small, wiry frame he had all those years ago when, the band first started and, he wasn’t long out of school pants! Brian was all in black, with his trademark black checked flat cap. First song, what else would be the first song on the Rock or Bust tour set-list than Rock or Bust, the first of three songs from the album which were included in the set. The other two being Play Ball, the début single from the album and Baptism By Fire. Would have been good to see a couple more of the songs from the album but the set was a crowd pleaser with classics like Back in Black and Thunderstuck with each song having appropriate footage, such as lightening during Thunderstuck and the band being shown in black and white rather than technicolor during Back in Black.
Angus was losing bits of attire as the show wore on, by Dirty Deeds the cap had gone and by the time we came to Let There Be Rock he was topless! Back tracking a little, Hells Bells had the famous AC/DC bell putting in an appearance. A very voluptuous, top hatted blow-up Rosie, hanging out of a tiny bra and stockings appeared for Whole Lotta Rosie the song which Bon Scott wrote after about a memorable night spent with Rosie, a Tasmanian groupie. Let There Be Rock had confetti which, from my vantage point, looked like glitter or gold dust raining down on the audience and included a ten minute solo by Angus, and ended the main set.
No big surprises for the encore songs. The encore had to include Highway to Hell and the last song For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) was the grand finale with cannons firing ending the show in spectacular style! Brian’s final words were words from the song ‘We Salute You’ and that was the end of a two hour set which included everything a die-hard AC/DC fan could expect, and was bound to impress any first timers! Chris having lost his AC/DC virginity had no complaints this time he said ‘They deserve the term awesome! They’re like no other band I’ve seen live‘ I was glad about that otherwise would have had to put up with a miserable face whilst waiting an hour and half to get a train back into the heart of ‘The Big Smoke!’ Will I get to see them again? Well, the world tours must surely take their toll, they’re not teenagers any more (and neither am I) so I’m not sure that I will, unless it’s at a big festival. Only time will tell! I sincerely hope so and there’s only one way I can end the review ‘AC/DC – We Salute You!’.
Intro / Rock or Bust / Shoot to Thrill / Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be / Back in Black
Play Ball / Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap / Thunderstruck / High Voltage / Rock ‘n’ Roll Train
Hells Bells / Baptism by Fire / You Shook Me All Night Long / Sin City
Shot Down in Flames / Have a Drink on Me / T.N.T. / Whole Lotta Rosie / Let There Be Rock
Encore: The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond (cover) (Glasgow only)
Highway to Hell / For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)
Angus Young – lead guitar
Cliff Williams – bass, background vocals
Brian Johnson – lead vocals
Stevie Young – rhythm guitar, background vocals
Chris Slade – drums
High Times (They Are Coming) / Blues Hand Me Down / Total Strangers
If you loved me / Angel City, California / Run Like the River / Strike Your Light (Right on Me)
Ty Taylor – Vocals
Nalle Colt – Guitar
Rick Barrio Dill – Bass
Richard Danielson – Drums