Sunday, 13 December 2015

AC/DC - Rock or Bust

AC/DC rocked Wellington last night. A sea of bogans flooded Westpac Stadium, dressed in black and decked out in flashing red plastic horns. The rain came down as the wind picked up, but there was no distracting this excitable crowd. We were relatively sheltered with seats in the stands at the back of the stadium but still endured our fair share of wild weather. Never mind; a bit of extreme wind and rain doesn't get Wellingtonians down.

The concert started 15 minutes late and got off to a roaring start. A dynamic video of song teasers and special effects hinted at what was planned for the night before the band blasted onto stage amid a storm of lightning and pyrotechnics. I haven't heard a concert so loud since ... well, probably since AC/DC last played in Wellington back in 2010. It was electric!

The stage and lighting setup was spectacular. Giant screens meant we could still get a good look at the stage from our seats at the back of the stadium. The lighting and special effects were really well coordinated and the set list was red hot.

And then the problems started. The opening number, Rock or Bust, blasted half of Wellington before ending with distorted feedback. After a lengthy pause, the show continued with Shoot to Thrill, then it all went quiet ... and stayed that way for a long time.

It was too easy; if #rockorbusted didn't already exist as a hashtag, then it wouldn't take long to establish itself. Seriously, a 40+ minute open ended pause is not what you'd want to impose on a hyped-up bogan audience. The crowd was generally patient, although there are reports of a few scuffles breaking out on the field. We took to social media to find out what was going on but no explanation was offered other than "technical difficulties". The crowd waited. Half an hour later, a brief announcement was made about trying to fix the problem, then another long pause. It was a full 45 minutes before the show resumed. A loud hum plagued the gaps in between songs for the rest of the concert and seemed to stamp out any of the usual banter you'd expect from front man and lead vocalist Brian Johnson. It meant that the audience were left wondering in between every song whether the show would continue or pause again, so much so that the usual cheering and shouting for encores were absent.

Aside from the technical difficulties, the concert was amazing. Such energy on stage from seasoned rockers coupled with outstanding visual effects made for a huge night of entertainment, even if it was sometimes hard to make out each song due to an over-loud lead guitar and vocals that couldn't quite be heard over the din.

Thankfully Angus Young has never grown up - and I hope he never does. He duck-walked and strutted his way across the whole stage, all the way out the front on a stage extension and ended by racing across a wall of Marshall stacks without ever dropping a note, even when he was playing with one hand behind his back or using just his school tie as a pick. Chris Slade is a solid replacement for embattled drummer Phil Rudd. The judge was right; the band is doing just fine without him. The stadium anthems blasted out and the cannons booming during the final song, For Those About To Rock, meant that even the most remote Wellington suburbs could be assured that the show did indeed go on. The fireworks at the end made me really glad that the stadium doesn't have a roof, even though it may have averted all the problems caused by last night's weather.

It would sad if this show was just remembered for the rain, wind and the technical difficulties they caused. This was a stellar performance by a legendary band who have clearly still got it. Was it better than 2010? I don't think so, but it certainly held its own among the stream of bands and artists from a similar era touring the world today.

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