The behemoths of hard rock and all things Hellish came crashing into Wembley (very much) like a runaway train. Playing to 80,000 people is no easy task even for the veterans, so how did the Aussie titans hold up?
We didn’t learn anything watching AC/DC For 2015, see 2009. For 2009, see 2000. For 2000, see 1982. The show rolls on, and nothing changes. And why should it? A giant bell rings, cannons fire, flames erupt, and Angus jerks about like a man with defibrillators attached to his bollocks. Same as it ever was. While other stadium bands may increase the platform and pyro budget with every passing tour, AC/DC roll into town with a similar set-up, playing pretty much the same set. They’re a living, breathing testament to the extraordinary power of giving people exactly what they wanted last time.
Wembley Stadium is a horrible venue In some ways it’s a brilliant venue. Public transport links are good, sight lines are decent, the toilets are clean, and the cumberland sausage is excellent… but the sound is always bad. Previous shows have sounded like distant fairgrounds being mortared, but at least AC/DC are loud enough, even if the riffs echo around like bulldozers in a canyon.
There are two guys missing We knew this already, of course, but with Malcolm ill and Phil racking up lawyer’s bills at home in New Zealand, it’s a chance to see how the replacements fit in. Chris Slade has been here before, and while he doesn’t possess the terrifyingly metronomic precision of his predecessor, both he and Stevie Young (who looks so much like Angus they could be brothers) fit in almost perfectly. Stevie even plays the same Gretsch Jet Firebird as Uncle Malcolm, with the same pick-ups removed.
There’s one song missing With the exception of Rock Or Bust’s dismal Baptism By Fire, a song which doesn’t deserve to be in the setlist, it’s everything you’d expect, with the exception of Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution, which the band haven’t played at all on the tour. It’s hits all the way: Hells Bells, Highway To Hell, Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be… and plenty of other songs that don’t even mention Hell at all. Sin City is an immense, dramatic highlight, Dirty Deeds and T.N.T. are still both gloriously daft, and the closing Let There Be Rock is a demented, thrilling climax. Bonus fact: of the 16 songs AC/DC performed when they played the neighbouring Wembley Arena in 1982, 13 were played tonight. See point one.
**They’re still the kings of this sort of thing **No-one else has steered such a direct, machine-tooled course through rock ‘n’ roll’s lunatic landscape as AC/DC. Others may have slowed down, or released concept albums, or made solo records (okay, so Phil Rudd made one, but we know what happened next), but DC haven’t budged. They’ve resolutely stuck to what they do best: balls-to-the-wall boogie and a magnificent live show. And as Angus pirouettes in front of his vast line of Marshalls, and thousands of horns flicker in the darkness, and Wembley’s arch is lit up by Satanic red lights, who’d want it to be any different?
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 Highway To Hell For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)