The first time AC/DC played an outdoor show in Ireland, it was a dank and showery night at Punchestown racecourse.
On Wednesday night, night the gods of rock deigned it would be a perfect sultry summer’s evening at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, perfect for the biggest rock ’n’ roll show on the planet. The band rationed their live shows to just three in Ireland and Britain. This one sold out in minutes.
“I heard there was a party going on,” exclaims lead singer Brian Johnson. As night falls, thousands of twinkling red devil’s horns light up the stands around the Aviva Stadium. There are bells, cannons and a giant pneumatic lady. An AC/DC concert is nothing if it isn’t fun.
AC/DC have been described as “five dwarfs making a lot of noise” but tonight they are 20ft-tall giants of stadium rock.
The opening song is the title track from the latest album Rock or Bust. “In rock we trust, it’s rock or bust”. The crowd sing along exultantly. It beats putting one’s trust in Eurozone finance ministers.
There have been two significant personnel changes since the last tour. Malcolm Young, the brains behind the band, is sadly no longer touring because of dementia and has been replaced by another Young, Stevie, his nephew.
On drums the bullet-headed presence of Chris Slade has replaced long-time drummer Phil Rudd, who has had a few legal problems recently. But AC/DC are carrying on regardless.
Live, lead guitarist Angus Young remains the one indispensable member of AC/DC. Young turned 60 this year, and still plays like a rock star possessed as he writhes and pirouettes around the stage. Looking like a superannuated leprechaun in a green velvet schoolboy outfit and outsized shirt, he is brilliantly entertaining - though mercifully he has ditched the striptease for this tour.
For years, fans have been speculating as to how long Brian Johnson’s voice can hold out. A little bit longer would be the consensus judging by this show. Johnson sings like he has just been shot, rivulets of sweat emerging from underneath his cloth cap. It’s a physical strain but he gets there.
It's hit after hit and riff after riff. Thunderstruck elicits a huge roar from the crowd, as does You Shook Me All Night Long.
There are few bum notes, aside from Baptism of Fire, a stinker from the new album which does not belong on AC/DC's live set when so many great songs from their back catalogue are left out. The guitar solo in Let There Be Rock could be shortened considerably. We do not need a 10-minute demonstration of Angus Young's soloing ability to know the boy can play.
AC/DC finished with the same two songs - Highway to Hell and For Those About to Rock - that have been their encore since, probably, Napoleonic times.
We will never see the likes of this band again. Will we ever see them again in Ireland? That is the question.