AC/DC @ Wembley Stadium, London – 03 July 2024

While facing a crucial election and Three Lions torment, Wembley Stadium buzzes with the anticipation of something far greater. The undisputed kings of rock, AC/DC return on their ‘Power Up’ tour, to remind us that in a world of uncertainty, rock ‘n’ roll just makes good, good sense.

With significant changes over the last decade, and back on the road to coincide with the 50th anniversary of their recording career, AC/DC continue with just two central figures: Angus Young and Brian Johnson. But, with Stevie Young on rhythm guitar, Matt Laug handling drums and Chris Chaney on bass, they’re all here to ensure the band’s legacy continues. Just as the 2020 album, ‘Power Up’ was dedicated to Malcolm, this tour not only confirms Angus’s endurance, but his sense of purpose to carry on as his brother had wished.

Out with ‘If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)’, the roar of the 80,000 strong crowd is deafening. Forever the schoolboy, Angus dons a blue velvet uniform and red cap, while duck-walking around the stage and along the ego ramp. He might be grey haired and slower than he was, but he looks incredible. Mouthing along to the voice of his trusty SG, the emotional investment put in by the master craftsman is adored, even if only via the screens beaming him around the stadium.

Meanwhile, the all in black, flat capped Brian Johnson is a draw unto himself. Along with his distinctive vocal comes sheer joy to be here. With arms wide open, fist pumping and gesturing, his statement is clear – old “Beano” is back! “You guys are a sight for sore eyes” he says during a first break for air. “We’re gonna pick up where we left off, have some fun, and play some rock ’n’ roll”. Then we’re into ‘Back In Black’, and Wembley’s foundations are shaking.

The setlist, pretty much the same across all European shows, dips into both Brian and Bon Scott era material. As a quick side note, I did think 2020’s ‘Demon Fire’ and ‘Shot In The Dark’ should be dropped in favour of the nostalgic ‘Through The Mists Of Time’ and perhaps another classic. But hey, who am I to complain, when we get power blasts from the past: ‘Shot Down in Flames’, ‘Thunderstruck’, ‘Have a Drink on Me’, and ‘Hells Bells’, along with the lowering of that giant bell.

I imagine a few niggles will be written about and focused on elsewhere. OK, at times the sound isn’t great, and perhaps Brian does struggle here and there. But honestly, if you have AC/DC ingrained in your musical soul, it hardly matters. An early, and anything but predictable highlight is ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ with dazzling guitar work from Angus, before we head into the golden age jump-along ‘Shoot To Thrill’, and the devastating four-chord riff of ‘Sin City’.

For over two hours, a huge audience of long time devotees, newer enrolled fans, and young kids having the experience passed down from their parents, are treated to a thundering, rock and roll show. In terms of crowd pleasing, it’s nothing short of 2009’s ‘Black Ice’, or 2015’s ‘Rock Or Bust’ Wembley shows. Of course Malcolm, Phil Rudd and Cliff Williams now only make up the history of the band. But, that’s added value in seeing this current line-up, and what might be one of AC/DC’s last performances. Naysayers, be assured they are more than capable of delivering it!

Emotion aside, we’re all only here for the songs, and they continue to come as thick and filthy as ever. ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’, ‘High Voltage’, ‘Riff Raff’ and ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ are nothing short of epic. The double act of Angus the flamboyant guitar hero, and Brian the ecstatic conductor, are backed by a flawless, tight as a duck’s arse rhythm section, and every one of their 21 song set is given word-for-word ferocity from the immense Wembley crowd.

I guess from an outsiders perspective, it might seem weird that folk feel a personal connection to a 69-year-old Aussie guitarist in a school uniform, and 76-year-old Geordie fella in a flat cap. But, stick them in crowd during ‘Highway To Hell’ and ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, and I’m pretty sure it would become clear. Add to that: ‘Let There Be Rock’, an extended guitar solo, and Angus on his back above the crowd, for a breathless watch and knowing they have seen something special.

Finishing up with ‘T.N.T’ and ‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)’, we are left with the sound of those six huge cannons in our ears. The band acknowledge the dedication of their fans, who respond with fervour before leaving to reflect. Without doubt the music of AC/DC has become a timeless commodity, and it’s power will never diminish. This was a chance for that power to once again be brandished in it’s rawest form, and it will live forever with those who witnessed it. AC/DC, past and present, we salute you!

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston