Approximately 40 minutes in, midway through the extended sleaze-blues of ‘The Jack’, and this most testosterone and Bud-fuelled, overtly heterosexual of crowds, are screaming like little girls, as a balding, 5’ 3” man dressed as a schoolboy performs a striptease for them. Tongue out, he pulls his blazer provocatively back and forth through his legs, rubbing it against his crotch, then swings it around above his head, before hurling it into the third row.
The tie comes next, then on to the shirt. Reaching in turn for each button, he cups his hand to his ear in an “I CAN’T HEEEAAR YOU!” gesture, and each time the screams get more frenzied. Now resplendent in nothing but a pair of shorts, the little guy marches to the middle of the stage, turns, sticks his bum in the air and prepares to moon this 20,000-strong, predominantly male audience. The music thuds to a suitably theatrical halt and the shorts drop, revealing a pair of 53-year-old arse cheeks, emblazoned with the name of their owner’s band. Now the screams are absolutely deafening.
Even in a set that begins with a 30-foot-high train crashing through the back of the stage, which will later be mounted by a 60-ft-high buxom blonde blow-up doll in ripped stockings and suspenders (during ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’), it’s these Angus Young antics that incite the loudest reaction. In front of NME, another, younger man wearing a school uniform and a perm wig thrashes away at a cardboard Gibson SG to the gargantuan riffs of ‘Shoot To Thrill’, ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’, ‘Thunderstruck’, ‘TNT’ and ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’. It turns out that, by day, he’s a product manager. This is what AC/DC, are about: bringing out the most disgraceful, shameless side in everyone they play for, and soundtracking it with the basest rock’n’roll in existence.
Angus spends approximately 96 per cent of the show furiously duck-walking from one side of the stage to the other, at one point even soloing as he lies on the floor, turning himself 360 degrees like a human clock hand. Drummer Phil Rudd has a fag in his mouth for the whole set. Guitarist Malcolm Young and bassist Cliff Williams look like they’re gonna keel over, while the nailgun-voiced Brian Johnson sings endless lines about hot female bodies and fast machines, swings from a gigantic bell-pull during ‘Hell’s Bells’, grabs his crotch a lot, high-fives the front rows and grins, sleazily and stupidly, in the way that only a man who knows what he does is so, so wrong and yet somehow so, so right, can.
At one point, during new song ‘War Machine’, AC/DC play in front of footage of a cartoon tank (on top of which stand an army of cartoon, surgically enhanced blondes in hot pants, of course). This is perfect, because really there is no better way to describe the real-life AC/DC than “a cartoon tank”. They are fully aware of this, but also of the fact that, rather than just being a lot of what’s-wrong-with-being-sexy fun, they matter. As they return to the stage for an encore of ‘Highway To Hell’, AC/DC are simply, utterly transcendent, an ever-on-the-move reminder of just how powerful and perfect rock’n’roll can be.
Angus sprints to the front of the stage one last time, and the look in his eyes, even after all these years and all of the last two hours, says one thing: “Not one of you fuckers – not one of you – is leaving this room having had anything other than the best fucking night of your life.”
And once more his mission is accomplished. Emphatically so.