Was accompanied by one of those famous The Australian cartoons of a slobbering Brian Johnson and Angus Young at 2/3 of the broadsheet’s page. In color in the Eastern States.
Brian Johnson, lead vocalist of arguably the world’s greatest rock and roll band, AC/DC, knew just how to whip this parochial crowd into rousing air-punching. “Here is a song written in Perth, about Perth, by a guy born in Perth.” The song was The Jack, and for a 20,000 strong crowd fully aware that they inhabit the late Bon Scott’s birth and final resting place, who cared that the song he was refering to was a tale of venereal disease? They were proud.
From the moment that Back In Black burst from the speakers following a big-screen introduction from MTV’s Beavis And Butthead, AC/DC brought grown men in tight black denim to tears. Kids scrambled on top of their seating with their parents holding their legs. And older couples canoodled like their now-junked HG Holden was still in the parking lot awaiting their return.
Every single one of them had grown up knowing of guitarist Angus Young dressed in school uniform. It is something that everyone of all ages share. This night, with his 37 year old frame hurtling about the stage without wear, without fear and without missing a single note in umpteen bonafide classic guitar riffs, Angus Young stood bigger than the 168 tonnes of staging he traversed effortlessly. Every eye was on Angus, his spotlight and Gibson guitar being the most important pieces of equipment in AC/DC’s enormous armory.
Gazing beyond the 150-piece roving light show, the massive video screen with camera shots from a dozen angles, the 50 foot high staging with cranes, bells, inflatables, cannons and a multitude of stage platforms, the five-piece AC/DC still managed to upstage all this hardware with exceptional musicianship. With their music simple, straight-forward and forever ‘ballsy’ there was little need for them to experiment, their meat-and-two-vege fare was what the crowd demanded and received.
Only briefly touching on the latest Ballbreaker album, the audience erupted to the vintage of TNT, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Whole Lotta Rosie (enter the infinitely disproportionate inflatable ‘Rosie’), You Shook Me All Night Long, Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution and Thunderstruck, with the latter-day hits of Hail Caesar and Hard As A Rock gaining even more momentum. Everybody lip-synched the words, everybody’s flailing arms punched the air in adoring salute – and Angus had only to raise his right index finger to immediately treble this effect.
With Johnson swinging over the staging on a giant AC/DC monikered bell to the introductory tolling of Hells Bells, and his genuinely precarious ride on a wrecking ball – a new addition to the current Ballbreaker tour – the crowd left their seats time after time. Facial expressions, dancing fingers upon fretboards and snippets of their film clips were infinitely scrutinised by multiple cameras for all to see on a huge screen, the members of AC/DC never seeming to drop out of the characterisations we see eternally in the press and on film.
And dressed like they still owned and serviced their own street cruisers – in blue singlets, denim and sneekers – the faultless rhythm section of Malcolm Young (guitar), Cliff Williams (bass) and Phil Rudd (drums) thundered ever onward, best exemplified by their seminal, history-of-rock tome Let There Be Rock. A ten minute show closer, before the encore of Highway To Hell and For Those About To Rock, the rhythm section purred while Angus was given a shoulder ride to the middle of the arena where he rose above everyone on a platform to solo, spin on his back and splash lucky punters with his own sweat. And all this was about ninety minutes into the set.
Thus Angus Young elevated his cult status to that of a deity for a new generation of fans. The man was without bounds, both in his stage energy and bluesy guitar improvisations. Forty thousand arms saluted him on this night and many more will by the end of this world tour.