AC/DC at BC Place

Photos by Anil Sharma

On Saturday, August 29th, the city of Vancouver was buzzing. As I stepped on to an unusually crowded sea bus I could feel a stinging energy in the air. That energy was energy that could only be caused by one thing, a true rock show. The famous Australian rockers that go by the name of AC/DC were in town and this was something that could not go unnoticed. Groups of fans making the trek from North Vancouver to BC Place, from children to adults, chanted classic lines from the bands unforgettable rock anthems, while others simply sat in their seats jumping with anticipation.

When I arrived at the venue the sold out crowd of 60,000 fans, many donning flashing red devil horns, was quite the sight as they waited for the legendary act to ascend upon the massive stage and walkway, which was topped off with a giant red baseball cap with devil horns for itself.

AC/DCConsidering the band is getting on in years, I will admit I was not anticipating a show with the energy that they may have provided years ago, but I was surprised to see… and most definitely hear that this was not so. I think we could accurately name AC/DC the rock band that never stops. Ranging in ages from 54 to 63, Angus Young and Brian Johnson, along with their down to business band mates Malcolm, Cliff, and Phil, proved that age is no object when it comes to true rock ‘n’ roll, seemingly gaining more energy as the sweat dripped down their guitar straps onward through the evening.

Although the set list was fairly predictable and provided fans with all the classics, from Thunderstruck to TNT, and showcased a couple of their tunes from their 2008 release Black Ice (which was recorded here in Vancouver at The Warehouse Studio) it was a formula that didn’t disappoint. Classic tunes aside, it was the onstage antics of lead guitarist Angus Young that truly made for an unforgettable night. From his classic striptease down to his AC/DC underwear to his slightly ridiculous 15 minute guitar solo, Angus duck walked through the show with a concentrated ease, proving that he without a doubt, still has it, even if he is wearing the same schoolboy outfit after 30 years. Brian Johnson also put on an admirable performance, feeding off the energy of the enthused crowd as he made his way down the long catwalk off the stage that extended into the middle of the sea of fans on the BC Lions’ home turf. At times he seemed adorable, as he squinted into his microphone with a devilish grin, and belted out his classic lyrics. As for the rest of the boys, guitarist Malcolm Young, bassist Cliff Williams, and drummer Phil Rudd, well they buckled down and concentrated on the business at hand, remaining in the background of the stage and allowing Angus and Brian devote their energy to entertaining the crowd.

For a rock show in an acoustically challenged venue like the massive BC Place, the sound was impressive, and probably couldn’t get any louder. But it isn’t the sound quality that AC/DC is famous for on their current Black Ice tour, it’s the ridiculously awesome stage set up. Aside from the aforementioned giant red devil horned baseball cap, the set was also made up of a giant rock ‘n’ roll train, a massive dancing blow up doll during “Whole Lotta Rosie”, a huge AC/DC bell during “Hell’s Bells”, and of course, fire, sparks, confetti… oh and did I mention cannons that shot off explosives?

It was undoubtedly a true stadium rock show and AC/DC proved that they are the masters. It also reminded me of how music, and rock ‘n’ roll is a tried and true universal language, and as the 60,000 happy, satisfied, and exhausted fans filtered into the streets after the show, I couldn’t help but realize that an AC/DC show is one of those rare events that bring the whole city together for a unified cause; rock ‘n’ roll.