And now, the band you’ve all been waiting for. The one, the only, AyCeeDeeCee. I’ve wanted to see this band since the mid-1980s. ‘High Voltage’ was one of the first rock albums I had, I queued outside Our Price in Woking to get ‘Blow Up Your Video’ when it came out, and I’ve loved them ever since. OK, I probably didn’t actually have to queue, but I was definitely in there they day it came out.
I’ve been really unlucky trying to see them over the years though, they just never seemed to play when I was around, or when they did, I missed out on tickets. I had in fact resigned myself to the fact that they would be on the ‘biggest regret’ list, seeing as they seem to play NZ even less frequently than the UK. So, imagine my excitement when they announce that they’re visiting Noo Zillund on the ‘Black Ice’ tour. I managed to score some tickets for the second Wellington show (in the Cake Tin) and a reasonably cheap flight up there, and counted that as my Christmas and Birthday presents for the next few years. It would be worth it though. I had 2 or 3 months of anticipation to endure though, before the day arrived.
Fast forward to the day – it seemed as though every other person on the flight up from Dunners was also going to the gig – literally the whole plane cheered when, on touchdown at the other end, the captain welcomed us to Wellington and wished us good weather for the concert. The Cake Tin, or Westpac Stadium to give it its official title, is not half a bad venue. Only 30,000 or so capacity, so pretty small as stadium gigs go, but bathed in evening sun, and not a breath of wind, which is pretty unusual in ‘the Windy City’.
The Checks were possibly worth seeing, but who knows. Missed them, never mind. Shihad are definitely worth missing, but in the interests of trying to get a decent position for the main act, and not spending too long in the bar, we sat through them. Dull dull dull. Duller than dull, in fact. Sterile. Anyway, by about 8.30 they were gone and we were ready to get us some Rock and ROLL.
Firstly, a word about ‘Black Ice’, AC/DC’s current offering. It’s pants, bar perhaps one track. They’ve not written a decent song since the 80s, in my opinion, but I don’t care – surely they know which side their bread’s buttered – 2 or 3 off the new one, maybe one each from Ballbreaker and Stiff Upper Lip, and the rest is going to be Classicsville, Arizona. Oh yes indeed.
I’ve seen all the live DVDs, I know what to expect, but the excitement is almost too much to bear. Finally, the stage lights go down (as much as they can, given that it’s not yet dark) and the giant video screen starts playing the intro sequence. Hilarious teenage smutty nonsense featuring Angus and some scantily dressed ladies and a good deal of innuendo, all taking place on board a train which crashes, with an explosion of pyrotechnics to rival any I’ve seen, through the video screen and all of a sudden there’s a 100 ft high steam train wreck on the stage, and we are off. ‘Rock and Roll Train’ is the first offering, and sounds so much better live through a 30k rig than on my iPod. I can’t get over how awesome the sound is. I’m wearing plugs, de rigeur these days for tinnitus sufferers, but it’s still way way loud, and crystal clear. Probably the best outside sound I’ve ever heard to be honest. The runway projecting out from the stage stretches halfway to the back, and Angus and Brian waste no time in bouncing right down to the end to do their thang. The guitars sound so good man, sooo good. The riffs that Angus and Malcolm grind out are just so damn groovy, nobody can make rock music so damn sexy as thems two. So, they might not have come up with anything original in the last 25 years, but who gives a damn?
The old stuff is great, the new stuff is great because it sounds like the old stuff, they’ve most definitely hit on a winning formula there. After the opener, they kick into ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place to Be, swiftly followed by ‘Back In Black’, which gets a huge cheer. ‘Big Jack’ from the new album is next, and I feel I should be shocked and appalled that the 62 year old Brian Johnston is wiggling his hips and boogying down the runway, but somehow I’m not. He’s very, very cool. Sure, he can’t hit some of the high notes like he used to, but he just radiates charisma and more than makes up for it with effort. High point of the night for me is next, in ‘Shot Down In Flames’. I have always been slightly skeptical of Johnson singing the Bon Scott ones, but this is just superb, and anyway, it’s all about the riffs isn’t it? I don’t particularly like ‘Thunderstruck’ which for some reason, seems to be the only one they play on the radio in NZ, but live it’s passable. ‘The Jack’ is Angus’s cue to strip off and show the crowd his underpants – there is really something not quite right about cheering on a 50-something year old man dressed as a schoolboy while he does a stripease, but there you go. It’s also the vehicle for him to launch into twenty minutes of widdly diddly solo, a la Nigel Tufnell, but as with everything they do, tongue is firmly in cheek.
Then it’s out with the toys. The colossal bell hanging from the rigging for ‘Hells Bells’ and a 100ft inflatable whore astride the giant train, tapping her foot to the beat, for ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’. It’s all just superb. This is how you do a stadium gig, the scale of it all is just mind-blowing. After half a dozen or so more classics, ‘High Voltage’, ’You Shook Me All Night Long’, ‘T.N.T. etc they disappear. Bloody hell, that went quickly. Cue massive chanting for more. They return minutes later for the final encore, unveiling two banks of giant cannons as they launch into ‘For Those About to Rock’.
The wind picks up just as the final song is being played – it pretty much ruins the sound and plays havoc with the lighter elements of the stage set, and it’s bloody fortunate that it stayed calm for so long otherwise it would have been a different story and I would have been writing about how shit stadium gigs are and asking ‘why the fuck would you try and do a gig outdoors in the world’s windiest city?’. But it didn’t so I’m not.
That was one brilliant concert, and I’m very glad to be able to cross Acker Dacker off the list at long last.