AC/DC: Live at the O2, London (14th April 2009)

Because AC/DC are a band that have always kept it simple, it makes for a great live show as the five well versed musicians can simply and accurately recreate what they have put down in the studio without the need for session musicians, orchestra’s or fancy instruments.

Over the years however, the live shows have included a number of set pieces with the appropriate props and showmanship associated with certain key tracks, and it got to the stage now where these form the expected content of any AC/DC show. This means that live show does include all those AC/DC classics that you know and love, and as you would also expect, a showcase of their latest material, which all in all leads to a fairly predictable set list.

The show starts off with a new animation on the giant screen behind the stage (and smaller side screens), featuring a cartoon Angus driving the Rock ‘n’ Roll train to the thundering sound of the train rattling down the track whilst the band take centre stage in the darkness. The pounding sound of the train steaming down the track segues into the opening number, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train”, as the rear screen splits in two, and their new stage centre piece, a huge AC/DC steam train, glides onto the stage. Cliff and Malcolm flank Phil’s drum kit at the rear of the stage, occasionally walking forward to their mikes to sing backing vocals, and leaving the stage free for the twin alpha males, Brian and Angus to roam at will.

The crowd are suitably warmed up with a couple of old classics, “Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be” and “Back in Black”, the opening riff of the later causing squeals of delight and making the sea of illuminated AC/DC devil horns surrounding the stage dance in unison.

The band seemed a little afraid to play a string of new material and preferred instead to pepper the 5 songs from the new album across the set list. The attention noticeably dropped during the new material and the whole row of seats in front of me refilled their plastic lager cups during “Black Ice”, returning just in time to catch the audience sing-a-long favourite, “The Jack”. As expected, Angus teases the crowd with his striptease as he sheds his jacket, tie and shirt whilst pouting at the audience like a cross between Jimmy Page and Adrian Edmondson. He briefly drops his shorts and flashes his AC/DC emblazoned under-crackers to all and sundry before whipping up his shorts and breaking into the guitar solo.

The bell is lowered during the opening chimes of “Hells Bells” and a spritely and well worked out Brian Johnson, despite his years, still easily manages the anticipated swing on the bell rope as the crowd appreciate another classic from the “Back in Black” album.

Another film accompanies the new track “War Machine” which I thought was the pick of the new material; the film features the band and a selection of rock chicks astride various pieces of heavy military hardware.

The one stage prop that we all love best however is Rosie. The giant inflatable whore and her car sized tits danced around to her theme tune as she straddled the mighty steam train, like the band, giving it her all.

“Let There Be Rock” features Angus’s extended, extended guitar solo and includes the bit where he walks along to end of the catwalk, stands in the little round stage and is elevated above his adoring fans whilst turning circles on the floor and never missing a note. The band leave the stage at the conclusion of his epic solo and the two numbers most noticeable by their absence flash through my mind as the required encores.

After a little coaxing, a small trap door opens in the stage, and Angus rises up out of the smoke playing the opening of “Highway to Hell”. At this stage we are all on our feet (which enables us to easily see past the over enthusiastic Australian flag waving fan who seemed to be having the time of his life). Then the big guns are rolled out for the finale, “For Those About to Rock” complete, as usual, with the full 21 gun salute. AC/DC, we salute you. Superb.

Full set list below:

Rock N Roll Train
Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be
Back In Black
Big Jack
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Shot Down In Flames
Black Ice
The Jack
Hells Bells
Shoot To Thrill
War Machine
Anything Goes
You Shook Me All Night Long
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock

Highway To Hell
For Those About To Rock

NB Photo's from the internet (different show), mine didn't come out very well.