Let’s face it: you are AC/DC now, and with great powerage comes great responsibility.
I mean, we get it: because of all the money AC/DC make, it might be easy to mistake them for just another corporation – a big brand with shareholders and a CEO who’s able to fire the MD if he’s not performing, and replace him with someone else and just carry on, business as usual.
But AC/DC is not Carphone Warehouse.
You are not a service provider and we are not just customers. Collectively, your millions of fans have invested more than money in this band – in loving the music, buying the records, going to the gigs – they’ve invested decades. We’ve put our heart and soul into this. You have what other brands would kill for: fully engaged and loyal customers.
So try and understand: losing Brian is a blow to us. You’ve probably known about it for a while. You saw it it coming, had time to get over it. But for the thousands of people who’ve bought tickets to what’s felt like the band’s last tour (what with Malcolm gone, Phil under house arrest, the relentless march of time), this is a shock.
That the only message from the DC camp has been, effectively, that “the show must go on” and “We thank Brian for his services, but meet the New Guy – cough! – Axl” seems insensitive. It fails to recognise the hearts that have been broken. It misses the point. We don’t just want ANY old “AC/DC” up there. We want our boys.
We depend on Brian Johnson up there. I mean, we LOVE you too. No getting away from that. You’re the main man! And we had our hesitations about Beano at first. Bon’s shoes were hard to fill, but you choose well. He had the voice and he had that down-to-earth, one-of-the-boys, here-for-the-craic vibe. You knew he was the kind of guy who’d get his round in. He earned his spot. It was like when your favourite striker gets dropped and replaced by some fancy-dan wanker from another team… but then starts knocking in the goals. Jonno’s been knocking them in for decades now – for most of our lives.
So it hurts, and you probably hate all this shit because you’re Scottish (so am I! I’m writing this in the back of a taxi ten minutes drive from where you and Malcolm were born!) but we need closure.
If that sounds wanky, put it another way. In football they have testimonials. In fact, even if you worked in a fucking factory, down the power station, whatever, they’d still have a leaving do for you. Everyone would chip-in to buy you a present, slip cheeky vodkas in yer Guinness and make sure you you left in style.
Don’t deny us that. Don’t deny us the chance to say goodbye. This is not the same as Bon. This is a guy who’s still living and breathing.
Here’s how you can rescue this:
Brian needs a leaving do.
You’re about to put on a travelling party that covers two continents. Turn it into a celebration.
If you’re nervous about calling it a Farewell Tour, make it a ‘farewell to Brian tour’. Brian’s comment that Rock Or Bust was going to be called “Man Down” in reference to Malcolm was perfect. He GOT IT. That would’ve been beautiful. You could go one better…
Turn this tour into a testimonial for Brian, and a belated goodbye to Malcolm (fuck it, go the whole hog: take the time to doff your cap to Bon too – get someone to put together a film of Bon to play during It’s A Long Way to The Top or, funnier, Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be).
Get Brian on for a song or two. Imagine. People would lose their shit if Back In Black started up and Beano came walking out.
Brian can’t sing? Bring him along anyway. In fact, bring Malcolm too.
Test case: A few years ago, Mott The Hoople reunited. It was a reunion long in the making and by the time it happened their drummer Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin was suffering from Alzheimer’s and was unable to drum. So they got Martin Chambers in and then for the last two songs each night, Buffin came out and joined in: two drummers. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
If Brian genuinely can’t sing? Get him to come out and say some words. It’ll bring down the house.
Get him to come out with Malcolm. Malc doesn’t have to say anything. Let Jonno do the talking. Just give us the opportunity to say goodbye.
Does that sound maudlin? Then you’re missing the point. AC/DC don’t do maudlin, I get that. Self-pity is not a part of the AC/DC Universe.
That’s why you turn it in to a party. That’s something you know all about.
Think about this: when you joined Guns N’ Roses onstage the other day it was the most exciting part of their reunion gig.
Imagine pulling that trick here. Bring on guests. You must’ve read some of what the internet’s saying. Imagine if you pulled out Angry Anderson for a song! People would lose their minds.
Get Joel from Airbourne up for a number – it’d be like having TWO Anguses on stage.
You’re playing Switzerland. Bring on Marc Storace.
Bring up different guests for each date, each country. Taylor fucking Swift did it – you don’t think you can?
Get Mikkey Dee and Phil Campbell up and give Lemmy a nod.
Drag Scott Gorham up – Tom Hamilton’s playing for Lizzy this year. Layer on the stars and the tributes. We’ll go nuts if you do even 20 seconds of The Boys Are Back In Town or Walk This Way, c’mon.
Get Slash and Duff to return the Coachella favour. Let them do Welcome To The Jungle with Axl while you have a five minute break.
Think big. Get a fucking pop star or two up. I know it doesn’t sound right - I’m not talking any fucking Joe Schmo off the X Factor – it’d have to be the right person. I saw Slash play with Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas once: she was killer. Get a woman up there. Sex it up a bit. You’re one of the raunchiest bands of all time. It doesn’t have to be a boys club.
I’m not saying turn it into a tribute act. I’m saying make them THE ULTIMATE AC/DC GIGS EVER!
Keep people guessing, get them excited, give us a wake for AC/DC – for Brian, for Malc, for Bon – give us the best party we can possibly imagine, go out in style, go out like legends, and please, please, if we must have him, just give us a break from Axl every now and again. He does my head in.
PS: Don’t worry about a leaving card for Brian - we’ll sort it.