AC/DC bust out Rock Or Bust at The Rock

“Dirty snags, sold dirt cheap” offers an off-duty fireman brandishing a pair of tongs, as sweltering pilgrims wander down the cordoned-off main street of The Rock, population 850.

The ‘snags’ – sausage sandwiches – are indeed dirt cheap at just $2.50. “And they’re not really dirty,” he adds, sheepishly.

By comparison, the most sought-after commodity on Sunday afternoon in this New South Wales village – water – is $4.00. It’s a good 40 degrees celsius, although this doesn’t stop myriad Angus Young impersonators hopping about the place.

There have been listening parties in New York and Buenos Aires, but few of the 1000-odd diehards and curious locals here in rural Australia know or care about them as they attend the official “Global Launch” of AC/DC’s Rock Or Bust.

The usual Sunday market, selling tea cosies and second hand clothes, is doing a brisk trade while a big screen set up by Sony Music plays the Family Jewels compilation by the band still known Down Under as Acka Dacka.

AC/DC’s back catalogue – sadly the same now in Australia as overseas with the original local releases High Voltage and TNT deleted – is on sale on the adjoining stage. So is the back catalogue of Bros.

There are no signs of mad dogs or Englishmen when the town mayor hits ‘play’ on a laptop just after midday. The video for Rock Or Bust is given an airing first.

There’s a wizened old man in a horned cap banging his head down the front, and a little kid skipping around with a real guitar. The local media love the little girl on dad’s shoulders. Brett Tyrell, a friend of Malcolm Young’s son Ross, who played guitar two nights previously as pub rockers The Choirboys played the High Voltage album in full, has made the long trip from Sydney and has a beer in hand.

Pre-ordering Rock Or Bust from the Sony folk gives you a chance to win concert tickets. To what? “When they tour Australia, which will be either late next year or in March 2016,” the crowd is told.

The best reception from the sweating horde was reserved for the songs they already knew - Rock Or Bust and Play Ball, plus the riffy Sweet Candy and the funky Hard Times.

Other tracks did not immediately engage. Sony say they’re stretching the rules by playing the album again. But the crowd starts to disperse – after another dirty snag sandwich.

_Steve Mascord writes for Hot Metal in Australia. Read his news story about the event, and his Rock or Bust album review. _