On July 6th, 1991 I saw AC/DC for the first time, and it knocked my socks off.
I’m pretty sure I was in Montréal just bumming around seeing free shows at the jazz festival. My friend Jojo and I were staying with his brother, who was in Montréal going to cooking school. I don’t think I even knew that AC/DC was going to be playing in town, I must have seen a poster or heard about it on the radio because we got scalper tickets outside the show, probably for less than face value.
I was only a marginal fan of AC/DC at the time and I doubt I would have shelled out much money for the show. I probably would have given it a pass even at the original cost of $32.25, a ridiculously low price by modern standards.
Either way, once I got my ticket punched I was about three hours away from becoming a pretty big AC/DC fan.
I don’t remember anything about the opening set by L. A. Guns, I might not even have seen it. I do recall that Jojo and I never once saw our seats. We watched the show from the railing of the entry point to our section where we could stand and move around and rage to our heart’s content.
I couldn’t believe that AC/DC had the audacity to open the show with their biggest song, Thunderstruck. They had the crowd screaming, chanting and fist pumping from the first note. And then, incredibly, they launched into Shoot To Thrill and then Back In Black. How can they start their concert with such heavy hitters?
And then about ten songs in it dawned on me; these guys have a hundred ‘best songs’. Jailbreak, The Jack, Who Made Who, Are You Ready…literally all of these in the first half of the show.
But what really boggled my mind was the nuclear explosion that was Angus Young. From the first power chord that little man was running as fast as he could from one side of the stage to the other, moving so fast and frantically that he was almost falling down the whole time. Song after song of literally non-stop high-speed kinetics, and he absolutely nailed every note in every moment. Perfect bends, machine-like vibrato, and all the while he’s spinning around on the floor like a crazed gerbil spinning in his exercise wheel.
And then every second song (or so it seemed) came with some big arena trick. For Money Talks the ceiling opened up and a million AC/DC dollars fluttered down to the crowd’s open hands. For Hell’s Bells the giant bell of rock ’n roll liberty descended from the rafters. For Jailbreak the back of the stage turned into a huge cellblock.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
The second half of the show just kept building and building. High Voltage, Whole Lotta Rosie, Dirty Deeds, You Shook Me All Night Long…how many anthems can one band write?
I swear, I couldn’t think of a single song that they held back for the encore (except maybe Rock & Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution – my favourite AC/DC song and one they didn’t get to at this show). Imagine my surprise when they managed to pull out Highway To Hell and T.N.T., and then close the night out with two huge cannons firing off at will during For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)!
I hadn’t been that shocked and amazed by a concert since the early days. When I hit the street after the show I was in a daze. How could the greatness of AC/DC had eluded me for so long? How had I not realized that Angus Young was such a great blues guitarist? My innards were numb.
AC/DC had truly rocked my soul.