Two months ago or so I experienced a proper sort of musical heartbreak familiar to many who’ve tried and failed to get tickets to such “grandiose” events such as Glastonbury. On the agenda this time was a festival sounding a lot like the one we used to go to in Dubai, the Dubai Desert Rock Festival (the only rock festival we had), organised by the same people who do this Coachella business in Caleyfornia and on the same grounds. This “Desert Trip” festival was to have a mere six bands. Not much of a “festival” then is it?
But when these six little bands are none other than Bob Dylan followed by The Rolling Stones on the first night, Paul McCartney and Neil Young on the second before Roger Waters and The Who on the third and final night, well, that’s quite something I have to say.
Think of them what you will, that’s a badass line-up. Cutting short what could potentially be a long story about musical and live-performance merits of said artists and the sad, raging emotions of an avid music listener entertaining money-fueled thoughts of ticket-acquiring delusions, I didn’t get a ticket. Just a two and a half hour wait in a virtual queue which I made a point of waiting in ’till the end safe in the knowledge that by the time it would be my go, there wouldn’t be any tickets left anyways.
As you do though, I got over it. What I didn’t get over was the feeling of dread that these old fuckers and bastards would soon be too demented, frail, raspy-voiced, deaf or just generally dead to be able to see in any live setting (hence the huge draw of Desert Trip, 6 birds, one diamond). So I became determined to see as many as these beautiful old legends as possible as soon as realistically possible. And I’d probably save some money as well. All I had to hope for was that they’d live at least another year or so for me to have that opportunity (hopefully, they’ll last longer than a year of course..! I’m not that selfish).
So off I went to some website a week or so later to grab me some tickets to see AXL/DC. Was I sad that I wouldn’t get to see Brian Johnson’s black beret? Of course. Was I particularly chuffed to get the chance to see a chubby old Rose in a cowboy hat? Perhaps a little bit admittedly.
But I just thought the centrepiece was still there and that counts for a lot.
And what a centrepiece he proved to be. Good ole Mr. Young number 1. Angus was everything everyone knows him to be: a sexy & strutting Scottish-Australian guitar-shredding God of rock’n’roll. Signature moves in full swing, shuffling his feet from one side of the stage to the next and up to to the central walkway, it was a pleasure and a privilege to see such a figure of rock music doing his thing, mouth in full swing, gurning as only he can, pieces of schoolboy clothing covered in sweat and coming off to reveal his skinny frame, old-looking with the youth of habit coursing through them. We had the customary 15-minute Let There Be Rock solo, full of playful teasing and incessant running. His tirelessness belies his age, wouldn’t be surprised if old people all over the globe looked up to him…
Mr. Rose seemed to be fully aware of his role as interim singer and as a life-long fan of the band, his enthusiasm and Christmas-morning pre-opening of presents attitude was palpable and most appreciated. His vocal duties varied from excellent to not-entirely on point but it did nothing to lessen the experience.
Definitely a shame to not have Brian or Young number 2 with his long and flowing grey hair but being able to experience the properly mind-blowing number of hits they have in their catalogue glossed over it all.
Because after all, the music’s the important part. Back in Black, Highway to Hell, Shoot to Thrill, Thunderstruck, Whole Lotta Rosie, You Shook Me All Night Long, Hells Bells, T.N.T., For Those About To Rock, honestly, need I say more?
Coupled with bouncing mosh pits, sweaty middle-aged men with T-shirts of 70’s era AC/DC or Black Sabbath or *insert other rock/metal band*, and endless devil horns, the show was exactly what was to be expected and in the best way possible. A pure bonanza of childlike satisfaction of timeless rock and roll by a bunch of old rockers.