AC/DC's Brian Johnson joins Sam Fender onstage in Newcastle for Back In Black and You Shook Me All Night Long

Sam Fender performs before Bruce Springsteen at Parco Urbano G. Bassani on May 18, 2023 in Ferrara, Italy.
(Image credit: Roberto Serra - Iguana Press/Getty Images)

Sam Fender has already got the seal of approval for Newcastle legends Sting and Mark Knopfler. Even Bruce Springsteen watched his set from the side of the stage when he supported The Boss in Ferrara, Italy in May. But surely none of those top playing Back In Back onstage with Brian Johnson in the heart of Newcastle. 

There were big expectations from North Shields songwriter Fender's two-night headliner at the St James's Park Stadium of his beloved Newcastle United, and he paid tribute to Springsteen on night with a cover of the Boss's I'm On Fire – in case we didn't know the kind of form the young songwriter is in as his career continues to go stratospheric.  But when Johnson – who Fender calls his Geordie hero and Uncle Brian – joined him for covers of Back In Black and You Shook Me All Night Long for the second night on Saturday 11 June, things went up several notches.

In a rare move, Jazzmaster fan Fender played a Gibson Les Paul for the two performances in front of a europhic sea of black and white (Newcastle United's colours) and took on the some of the verse vocal duties with Johnson. There was no shortage of guitar firepower with four guitarists onstage either. 

One was Fender's former guitar tutor Phil Martin, who played an Ebony SG to take on Angus's role on the solos. He nailed them, and Fender was keen to pay tribute to his old teacher in an Instagram post reflecting on the weekend's gigs.

"Phil Martin, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this if it wasn’t for your tutelage and back when I had my first band (when we were bairns, 14 or 15) you let us rehearse in the Gasworks practice rooms for free," wrote Fender. "We need more people like you in our community."

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.