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Gig Review: AC/DC + supports, Brisbane

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AC/DC + The Hives + Kingswood
QSAC Stadium, Brisbane
12 November 2015
Review and photos by Shaun Watson

The ominous red flashing of devil horns would dominate the scene at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane for this fine Thursday evening. This could mean only one thing. AC/DC have arrived and welcomed one and all to board their rock ‘n’ roll train. Their co-captains for this journey were Melbourne beasts, Kingswood and Swedish rock maniacs, The Hives.

Kingswood opened the show with their powerful brand of indie rock, which boasted a real Queens Of The Stone Age vibe, with their Aussie twist, earning them a rabid fan base Australia wide. They may have been out numbered by the AC/DC fans in the beginning, however that all changed as their set progressed into the monster it was. Kingswood’s short set made for the perfect appetiser for new fans to jump on board their bandwagon.

The night grew older with a sea of fans flooding through the gates, just in time to get prime position to experience the craziness and madness that is The Hives. Immediately, The Hives bring their hyperactive Swedish rock swagger to the stage, all decked out in white suit jackets as they have famously done before. Come On was the spark, which set their whole show alight right from the outset, with each and every track that followed creating an absolute cracker of a performance. From beginning to end, The Hives showmanship was on full display while injecting a massive dose of energy directly to the masses. The Hives were armed as always with their signature ninjas who seem to add that extra visual appeal to their shows. Taking a page out of the AC/DC playbook, The Hives have their own trademark closing track with Tick, Tick, Boom. As The Hives say goodbye to Brisbane for the night, the anticipation for AC/DC continues to grow with many more fans still converging to the venue.

Typically, the show begins with an intro video on the big screen. These intros have been a staple for many of the recent AC/DC tours with all of them serving their purpose; build up that anticipation. The huge crowd at QSAC erupts as Angus Young bursts out onto the stage. Saluting his fans, the intro riff to Rock or Bust triggers an explosion from both the stage and rock goodness from the massive stack of amps. The notable absence of both Malcolm Young and Phil Rudd, while well documented for vastly different reasons, didn’t slow the rock ‘n’ roll train down whatsoever.

Their show was classic after classic with a handful of tracks from the more recent Rock Or Bust album thrown into the mix. While these songs are relatively new by comparison, they were all suited to the overall set list. New songs featured were the title track Rock or Bust, the lead single Play Ball and the fast paced Baptism by Fire. Classics included Shoot to Thrill, Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, High Voltage and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Brian Johnson always does justice to the Bon Scott tracks, which adds to that nostalgic feel of their shows at times too. That infamous intro riff of Thunderstruck kicks in and the crowd goes ballistic! Thunderstruck is just one of those songs that will always be the one constant to all of their shows.

As the huge iconic AC/DC bell descends from the rafters, the chimes ring out through the arena. It is truly one of those great sights in any rock show. The bell continues to swing high above the stage as Angus plays the opening riff to Hells Bells. A surprise, yet a welcomed addition to the show, was a track from the underrated Powerage album, Sin City. It is usually at this point of the show where Angus typically performs his little strip tease. Although, at age 60, I would say that common sense had taken over and scrapped that from the show and replaced it with a mini neck tie guitar solo. Another surprise addition came in the form of stand out track from the Back In Black album, Have A Drink On Me. It doesn’t usually make in on the set list but damn, it sounded full and absolutely brilliant live with many raising their drinks to salute. Angus ventures to centre stage for his rare appearance in front of the mic for T.N.T. Those thunderous chants of “Oi, Oi, Oi” were deafening.

It was now time for everybody’s favourite plus-size woman to make her grand appearance. The lovely Rosie takes her place, dominating the back of the stage, rocking a top hat in all of her voluptuous glory. Rosie was putting on quite the show of her own to the tune of Whole Lotta Rosie as the crowd switched to frenzy mode! Now, to all the people who say that AC/DC are “too old” and don’t have what it takes anymore, I say you are wrong and age clearly doesn’t matter. They still know how to bring it and kick some serious arse!

The show continued along this vibe with Let There Be Rock, yet another absolute classic and a testament not only to rock music itself but also to the late great Bon Scott. Running from side to side, out to his personal mini stage riser, then disappearing for a moment to rise back up again from the stack of Marshall amps that dominate the scene at the back of the stage, Angus stands there proud like the rock god that he truly is. The lights dim down. Flames and red smoke appear. Devil Angus, once again rises from beyond for the encore with Highway to Hell. Brian Johnson struts back out to the stage sporting the Brisbane Lions AFL jersey. To see Brian wear something other than his traditional black singlet, shirt or vest is quite the rarity.

The smoke clears and the flames burn out. Those famous cannons rise above the stack of Marshall amps. The beginning of For Those About To Rock signifies that this is indeed the grand finale. One can’t help but get goose bumps as this could very well be the last tour for these rock legends. This may be a predictable ending to the show, but this is the only way that an AC/DC show should ever come to a close. Quite honestly, you wouldn’t want it any other way. “For those about to rock…. FIRE!!” One of the most legendary moments of their shows, that 21 gun salute. This grand finale wins every single time no doubt about it. Additional fireworks to brought the curtain down on such a brilliant performance from these hard rock veterans.

All current members, although not the original cast with the obvious exclusion of Angus, have all at one time or another during the legendary history of AC/DC played integral parts. Brian Johnson’s powerful husky voice set to the backdrop of Angus Young’s blistering guitar, Cliff Williams signature bass lines, the thunderous drum stylings of Chris Slade and Steve Young’s powerful rhythm guitar, not to forget the overall awesomeness of their massive stage all combined to produce the rock show of the year. Bow down and kneel to the undisputed kings of rock ‘n’ roll.

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