It's October 1977, and AC/DC are on the UK leg of their Let There Be Rock tour. After a pair of successful shows at London's Hammersmith Odeon, they have a night off scheduled, and normally they'd do what AC/DC normally do when AC/DC are in London: they'd go to the pub.
"When we were in London we would all go out,” said tour manager Ian Jeffery. “Our pub was the Warrington in Maida Vale. Malcolm would even bring Angus to the Warrington sometimes. Angus would have lemonade or orange, but Malcolm would always start on pints and end up with a couple of stiff whiskies. That’s when you knew it was time to go home.”
This time it's different. At the last minute The BBC have asked AC/DC to appear at the Hippodrome in North London's Golders Green, to film a set for their Sight and Sound in Concert show, after The Sensational Alex Harvey Band canceled their scheduled appearance.
AC/DC aren't the first rock band to record at the 3000-capacity Hippodrome. The first date of Queen's Queen I tour in 1973 had been broadcast as part of The BBC's In Concert series, and many others would go on to record live sets there, including Jethro Tull, ELO, The Kinks, UFO, and Roxy Music. But it's unlikely the audience have ever experienced anything as exciting as AC/DC.
The eight song, 40-minute set is wild, kicking off with a frantic version of Let There Be Rock and continuing with Problem Child, Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be, Whole Lotta Rosie, Bad Boy Boogie, Rocker and T.N.T.
In a set stuffed with highlights, Rocker is a standout, as Angus does his walkabout routine. This takes him to the theatre's balcony, where he races up and down the steps between the largely nonplussed ticket holders, pausing only to leer into the occasional face and to briefly sit on one lucky punter's lap. He finds a fan at the front of the balcony who's dressed in full school uniform – complete with AC/DC satchel – and the pair share the spotlight for a few moments, as Angus stands atop the balcony rail, soloing furiously above a vertical drop that would terrify most normal musicians.
The full set was never given an official release, although it did show up in Japan on the semi-official Live 77, with sound taken from the original mono video master and tweaked into an approximation of a stereo mix. Later, Rocker, Let There Be Rock and Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be were officially released as part of AC/DC's Plug Me In video box set. The audio has also featured on various bootlegs, including the punningly titled Golders Green Aint A Bad Place To Be.
The whole set is on YouTube, of course, most attractively in the shape of a remastered 4K version which, the uploader says, has been upscaled to 60 frames-per-second, with adjusted colour and added bass and treble. And it looks and sounds great.
As for the Hippodrome, these days the venue has swapped one set of unruly Australians for another, replacing nights of rampant rock'n'roll revelry with worship of a more traditional kind as the North London campus of evangelical Australian megachurch Hillsong. We're not sure Bon Scott would approve.