081009 ACDC, Ottawa, ON

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On August 10th, 2009 I drove out to the Corel Centre (or whatever) to see AC/DC.  This was my second time seeing the Scottish/Australian rockers and with the blissful electrifying joy of that first AC/DC experience still ringing in my ears more than a decade later I was super-excited to have the band elevate me to a rock and roll pinnacle once again.

Walking through the vast parking lot towards the main gate I immediately noticed all the kids.  It seemed like almost everyone had outfitted their eight-year old in an oversized black AC/DC t-shirt and brought them along to the show.  I swear, it looked like we were walking into some sort of heavy metal Raffi concert or something.

Which was all very cute and all, but it sure made me long for the dangerous days of live rock concerts.  Remember the craziness?  The hedonism?  The running like a maniac to stake out your spot in a totally GA venue where every ticket in the room cost $12 and everyone was sneaking in something?  I recall my first show at this same venue, and it was with a heavy heart that I looked down upon the floor section and saw everyone on the floor standing dutifully in front of their own folding chair, with not a soul dancing in nary an aisle.  I knew then that the sterilization of my favourite pursuit was well underway, but I couldn’t imagine that in a few short years the crowd at a freaking AC/DC concert was going to look like Mr. Rogers neighbourhood.

Like I say, it was cute and all, but still.

So in I go, up the stairs to the cheap seats upper-stage left and I plunk myself down in what looked like the McDonald’s Family Fun Zone, when all of a sudden the two seats next to me get taken up by a twenty-something serious ruffian and a lady who clung to him like a corsage (and who looked like she might have been a dancer, and I’m not talking Swan Lake).  In no time at all the danger level in my section shot straight through the roof.

Dude started chatting me up, told me the first time he saw AC/DC he was nine years old and his parents had him smuggle a kilo of weed into the show.  Then out of the blue he stood up and started screaming at the dude behind us – for no reason whatsoever that I could see – ultimately threatening to have a half-dozen bikers meet him after the show to help him beat this fellah to a pulp.  His girlfriend started saying things like, “C’mon, not again,” and, “Let it go…for me?” but it didn’t seem like her heart was really in it.  The dude pulled out his phone, dialled a number and said something sinister like “It’s on, Corel Centre (or whatever), eleven o’clock!” before hanging up and glaring silently back at the poor guy behind us.

Who was sitting there in wide-eyed shock next to his young wife and their cute little daughter, all of whom were clearly surprised to be suddenly and inexplicably plunged into the danger of live rock and roll.  

Mercifully the lights went down, to great applause (and excited shrieking from the wee ones).

The show was good, but not near as good as the first time I saw them.  They still played all the hits (no need to list them here – if you’ve heard it on the radio in the last ten years then they played it), they still had a bunch of fun concert tricks, firing off cannons and stuff, and Angus Young once again did his very G-rated guitar solo/striptease, which this time ended with him sporting boxer shorts emblazoned with the AC/DC logo across his backside.  But overall it seemed a lot less fist-pumping and a lot more, well, kid-friendly.  

Which I guess is a pretty good way to pass your music on to the next generation.  Nice move, AC/DC*, but this forty-something’s pinnacle remained unreached.

As for the biker dude and his clingy girlfriend, well, I can’t recall for certain, but I’m pretty sure they left before the show ended (with a Highway to Hell and For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) encore), I’m sure to the great relief of the guy sitting behind me.  

Bet that will teach him not to bring his little kid to a rock concert.  

*Suddenly and unceremoniously kicking Brian Johnson out of the band and replacing him with Axl Rose?  Not so much.

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