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AC/DC – 3.7.2024, Wembley Stadium, London, UK

Written by: omne metallum
Published: July 10, 2024
Event: AC/DC: European Power Up Tour 2024
Location: Wembley Stadium, London, United Kingdom

AC/DC are one of the most instrumental bands in making me the music fan I am today, living legends who have long forged a career out of riffs and blues infused rock, and a band who I've wanted to witness for myself for years, ever since I was regularly spinning a DVD copy of Live At Donington when I was but a wee nipper. To say I was excited to finally get to witness one of the most legendary bands in rock and get to experience those songs for myself would be an understatement. AC/DC have long been on my must-see list, a band I had to witness before Angus hung up the school uniform for good, so despite the painful price, I bit my tongue and was lucky enough to grab a ticket before the touts did: seated, but better than nothing.

Now, I wasn't ignorant of the fact that the band I grew up watching on Live At Donington was a good thirty years older and could now collect a pension. I wasn't going to be getting the same experience (thankfully the near 70-year-old Angus has dropped the striptease routine), but I hedged my bets that the quality of the songs and energy from the crowd could compensate for any shortcomings in the show. While some may have been deterred by the price and age factors, I knew my chances of finally getting to see the band were growing increasingly slim, and had to be taken while I could.

Football may not be coming home, but AC/DC are.

After months of waiting, the big day rolled around, and I joined the crowded masses descending upon Wembley Stadium awaiting Angus and Co. With Wembley Way a sea of denim and AC/DC shirt-clad fans, the atmosphere was one of celebration; after a nine-year gap since their last UK show, the band were finally back in the UK, and were mere hours away from taking to the stage. For a stadium show, it was remarkably quick to get from the train station to my seat, even with the mandatory security checks; you would have probably spent longer in the lengthy merch queues than you would getting into the stadium.

The Pretty Reckless 18:55-19:50

First up though was the support act; I was surprised when it was announced that this was to be The Pretty Reckless, given that recent tours have seen AC/DC plump for much smaller names to take to the stage before them. Still, this felt like we were getting slightly more bang for our buck with a decently sized opening act this time around.

I was disappointed that they had been selected as the opening act, as the two times I had caught the band prior to this were underwhelming to say the least. However, given the quality difference in performance from the last time I saw The Pretty Reckless live, the band evidently wanted to make the most of this opportunity, as they had upped their game considerably and made for an enjoyable show.

Taylor Momsen made full use of the stage as she worked the crowd, getting a strong reaction that made her feel like a natural in front of a sea of fans. With a strong sound from the off, the band kicked into gear and put on a greatest hits set that was surprisingly infectious. Calling for the women to scream before kicking into "Witches Burn", Momsen was taken aback by the strength of response and the sheer amount of women in attendance. "Heaven Knows" seemed tailor made for large audiences, with the call and response refrain hitting decibels usually reserved for headline acts.

Even with an extended solo section, the set was over all too soon and The Pretty Reckless took their leave. I had expected to endure the band for their time on stage, but I found myself enjoying their set and their enthusiasm. Hopefully this wasn't a one-off performance for the band and they don't revert back to their usual plodding ways in future for their sake, because if they can keep this up then I can see them getting a lot bigger than they already are.

AC/DC 20:15-22:30

It was then that the countdown really kicked into gear; with each passing minute the anticipation grew. While nothing was left to entertain the crowd in the interim beyond a screen with the band's logo, just soaking in the surroundings and mutual excitement was more than enough to occupy your time.

With no fanfare or warning, a roaring engine noise burst out of the speakers, signalling to those (including me) to rush back from the bar/toilets and take their place, as the band were about to take to the stage. A deafening roar went up as the band finally walked the boards and Angus kicked off with the riff to "If You Want Blood (You Got It)". The engine noise must have shook the mixing board loose, because the mix for the first few songs was poor, with the exception of Angus' guitar, turning into a blurry mess that you could only occasionally hear; as the band were throwing out the hits right from the off, this was extremely annoying. Thankfully, the sound issues were mostly resolved by the time "Shot Down In Flames" kicked in; while Johnson was lower in the mix than I would liked (though I expect maybe to hide his limitations), the rest of the band were right in the pocket.

The band steamrolled through their set, with at most 30 seconds’ break between songs, the band seemingly rushing themselves as if to be done with it and go home. While it did mean you were treated to classic after classic in quick succession, it felt like a very stripped back show by the band; Angus did the duckwalk, and both he and Johnson made full use of the stage and ramp, but the lack of any extended jams except for the end of "Let There Be Rock" and no inflatable Rosie (now just a video of one) felt like the band were cutting back. At least the cannons and famous bell made it, the latter descending from the rafters during a chilling "Hell's Bells", though Johnson can be forgiven for not swinging from it.

Hearing tracks like "Stiff Upper Lip" and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" breathed a life into them that is missing from their recorded versions; the power and swagger of both tracks live were worth the price of admission alone. While it would be near impossible for the band to cram in all the hits (I would have traded "Have A Drink On Me" for "Jailbreak" or "Heatseeker"), the setlist was an excellent mix of expected hits and rarer cuts that fit right in. The band let the music do the talking, and given how they can still nail it live, it more than made up for any other shortcomings.

As AC/DC kicked things up a gear to close out the night, "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Highway To Hell" saw the crowd hanging onto every note, and turned the show into a stadium-sized karaoke session. An encore one-two of "T.N.T" and "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)" saw the band sign the night off on a high.

It was an odd sensation to not only be heading home at just past ten, after the concert flew by in the blink of an eye, but that it was still slightly light outside. While their set got off on a poor foot, AC/DC found their groove and put on a strong show. It wasn't the same frenetic show with props galore that helped cement the band's legacy, but it was a strong showing from a group in the late stages of their career, one that let the music do the talking, and with a catalogue like AC/DC's, that is far from a bad thing.

We may not have got blood, but we got the hits; rock on!

AC/DC setlist:

01. If You Want Blood (You've Got It)
02. Back In Black
03. Demon Fire
04. Shot Down In Flames
05. Thunderstruck

06. Have A Drink On Me
07. Hells Bells
08. Shot In The Dark
09. Stiff Upper Lip
10. Shoot To Thrill
11. Sin City
12. Rock 'n' Roll Train
13. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
14. High Voltage
15. Riff Raff
16. You Shook Me All Night Long
17. Highway To Hell
18. Whole Lotta Rosie
19. Let There Be Rock

20. T.N.T.
21. For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

Written on 10.07.2024 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 14 users
16.07.2024 - 08:52
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Maybe most valuable concert review ever written for MS:
I stand whit Ukraine and Israel. They have right to defend own citizens.

Stormtroopers of Death - "Speak English or Die"

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing

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