What: AC/DC concert
When: Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Where: M.E.N. Arena, Manchester, UK

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AC/DC rockin' it

Long live Nintendo Wii and its Guitar Hero game — if it weren’t for Guitar Hero, so many great old rock bands would have been pushed into obscurity by the recent trends. Instead, the rock dinosaurs such as Iron Maiden are touring the world and enjoying almost the same level of success as they did in their prime (which was long before 95% of you who read this were born). And, among the guitar heroes of the golden age of hard-rock, Angus Young of the AC/DC fame might be THE ultimate hero. Physically, he has always been a somewhat comical character – he’s a 5’2” skinny fella, whose trademark stage wear is a school uniform — short trousers, white socks and all (see the pic above)! But when it comes to playing his guitar, this pint-sized man knows his s**t, and his machinations have inspired legions of kids to aspire to become guitar heroes themselves.

Anyway I’ve been an AC/DC fan since, like, forever, but I’ve never seen them perform live. So, for me, to finally attend their gig was a dream come true. And I was eager to get a full AC/DC treatment: therefore, I couldn’t wait to see whether Angus would wear his school uniform (he did!), and whether he would do his ridiculous little duckwalk dance (he did!), and whether Brian Johnson would wear a vest and a flat cap (he did!) and whether the drummer would smoke on the stage (he surely did!)… I was also expecting to see some old school stage antics, like giant-sized inflatable dolls, huge bells and cannons (they were all there!) and of course Angus doing a striptease (and you bet he did it – only to reveal that he’s wearing boxers emblazoned with the AC/DC logo!) So, all boxes ticked – Ivana happy!

Certainly, all this may sound utterly silly to someone who isn’t into old-skool bluesy, greasy, blokey, sexist, flamboyant hard rock – but for the initiated, such as myself, this is the epitome of fun! But goofy stage antics aside, these people know how to cook up a good riff, and their commitment to what they do ultimately transcends the silliness of it all.

The concert was introduced by an inspired Belfast-based band called The Answer. These blokes play some cool bluesy guitar rock but with some funky elements, courtesy of their rhythm section. They’re an exciting live act – the crowd loved them!

And then “the thunder from Down Under” took over. The first song of the night, “Rock’n’Roll Train” (from their latest album Black Ice, released last year), was introduced by a cartoon film of Angus dressed up as the Devil, driving a steam train faster and faster, to the horror of female controllers, and ending up with a real engine crashing onto the stage! The set offered a retrospective of their entire career, so they delivered all the classics such as “Highway To Hell”, “Whole Lotta Rosie”, “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Back To Black”, as well as a few newer things. Not that anyone could tell the difference between the old and the new songs really, because thirty years later, AC/DC are still doing their own thing – basic riffs, basic rhythms, three chords per song, and lyrics about gettin’ some and having a good time. The singer Brian Johnson is 61 years old (!) and nowadays he can’t hit all the high notes, but his energy level hasn’t decreased at all. In between the songs, the crowd would scream “Angus! Angus!” hoping that the show would never end! (And we were surely very sad when it ended.)

Now, I’ve read some really bad reviews of the AC/DC‘s UK tour (which, by the way, sold out in a matter of hours). The critics accused them of being “immutable dinosaurs” and such. But hey, none of us who bought tickets for their shows would want them to change! These granddads have survived in the music business for more than three decades by remaining true to who they are; and whoever expects them to change now must be smoking something way stronger than cigs. Yeah, they might be relics from the 1970s, misogynous sexists and whatnot, but all of us who packed up the MEN Arena that Tuesday night were simply having too much fun to care.

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