Malcolm Young calls Powerage his favourite AC/DC album backstage in Vancouver



By Steve Newton

There are three things that are inevitable in this world: death, taxes, and a ringing in your ears after seeing AC/DC. As I write this review, it’s been two hours since the Aussie blues-metallists left the Coliseum stage in a flurry of golden confetti, and the sirens inside my head threaten to drown out the hum of my PowerMac. Serves me right for not using the protective earplugs I took along as a precaution. When the band rolled out six cannons to blast home “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”, it should have been the cue to insert the little foam cylinders left over from my slave-driven days as a cannery worker.

Ah well, it was all worth it. Last Sunday (April 22) I got to see lead guitarist Angus Young lie down inside a rising platform and use his scrabbling little legs to propel himself around in a circle during “Let There Be Rock”. I got to see lead vocalist Brian Johnson take a running leap at a rope hanging from a huge bell, then ride it over the crowd while the intro to “Hell’s Bells” clanged away. And I got to see a few females in the crowd flash their breasts on the big video screens while the band rolled out its skanky ode to gonorrhea, “The Jack”.

In other words, I got to see everything that you normally see at an AC/DC show.

There were no surprises at all, which was okay, because just a few nights prior I’d been surprised by another ’70s-rock icon, and not pleasantly. After seeing the once-vital Johnny Winter play the Commodore as if he was on his deathbed, it was encouraging to watch skinny old Angus tear it up with the energy of a rowdy schoolboy. He even got the crowd of 11,000-plus cheering for a glimpse of his bony butt during the saucy striptease that enlivened “Bad Boy Boogie”. They didn’t get one, though, because when Young bent over and yanked down his green shorts, all he revealed was a pair of white undies festooned with red maple leaves.

What a fooler!

AC/DC stuck with its practice of offering an equal number of tunes from the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras, which meant serious plundering of Highway to Hell and Back in Black, respectively. The band only played two songs from its latest album, Stiff Upper Lip, which was more than enough, and totally ignored its 1978 masterwork Powerage.

After the show, at a meet-and-greet backstage, I pointed that out to rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, who seemed slightly confounded by the oversight himself. “That’s my favourite album, too,” he claimed while signing the insert from my Powerage CD. “That’s the real deal, right there.”

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