AC/DC make live return with Matt Laug in place of Phil Rudd on drums

Angus Young performs at Power Trip festival 2023
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

AC/DC played their first live show in seven years this weekend at Power Trip festival in California, and the occasion also not only marked the live return of vocalist Brian Johnson — who was forced to leave the band’s Rock or Bust world tour due to hearing problems but also bassist Cliff Williams, who announced his retirement in 2016. However, the show also saw AC/DC make a live debut with drummer Matt Laug in place of Phil Rudd.

The band ran through a 24-strong set of greatest hits as well as giving Shot in the Dark and Demon Fire from 2020 album Power Up their first live airings.  “How cool is this!” Brian Johnson said to the audience after opener If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It), adding “Lovely to see ya, let’s get rockin’ and rollin’, right?” as Matt Laug —playing a one-up/two-down DW kit — counted-in Back in Black with the iconic closed hi-hats. 

In September, AC/DC posted audio clips from rehearsals for their headlining set, accompanied by the news that the audio featured returning bassist, Cliff Williams. However, the band also revealed that session drummer, Matt Laug was behind the kit in place of longstanding AC/DC drummer, Phil Rudd.

No explanation has been given for Rudd’s absence, with some fans speculating that it was due to Rudd being unable to secure a US visa following legal problems throughout 2014/15.

Matt Laug is best known for his contribution to Alanis Morissette’s huge-selling album, Jagged Little Pill, as well as taking care of drum duties in Slash’s Snake Pit, Alice Cooper and Mike Cambpell’s Dirty Knobs. However, Laug is also a die-hard AC/DC fan, having supported them during his time with Slash, and has frequently paid tribute to the band via his social media accounts, most recently wishing Brian Johnson a happy birthday last week.

AC/DC are yet to announce any further dates, and it remains to be seen if Laug’s performance with the band is limited to one, or possibly a handful of live dates. 

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.