Gig Review: AC/DC in Birmingham 23/04/09

It was with trepidation (and a little child-like expectation) that this Rhythm scibe ventured to Birmingham to pop his AC/DC live cherry last night. The gig could have gone one of two ways - either a seminal band past their prime and cashing in, or pure rock'n'roll salvation. Without a doubt it was the latter and I'm embarrassed I even entertainment the former.

AC/DC's Phil Rudd, Angus Young and Cliff
Williams rock the LG Arena to its feet
(Credit: Dave Phillips)

Bursting on stage to a cacophony of pyros and blinding lights the band hurl straight into 'Rock'n'Roll Train' before treating the assembled throng to sensory overload. The life-size Runaway Train, the inflatable Rosie, the ear-shattering six gun salute, the Hell's Bell, Angus Young's inimitable duck-walk and every hit imaginable - 'Back In Black', 'TNT', Thunderstruck', 'Shoot To Thrill', Highway To Hell' to name a few - helped turn this into a religious event (at the altar of rock) as opposed to just another 'gig'.

As for Phil Rudd, his exceptional performance was solid proof, if needed, that his position in Rhythm's recent 100 Most Influential Drummers feature was more than justified. A master of the 2 and 4, and the throbbing pulse of the band, watching him play had me itching to get behind my kit and rock out (and work on my timekeeping), just as Vinnie Paul and Peter Criss made me want to pick up the sticks back in the '80s. Never missing a beat Rudd even managed to flout British laws by smoking throughout the set. Rock'n'Roll indeed!

Phil Rudd in full swing
(Credit: Dave Phillips)

If you didn't manage to get tickets for this tour I feel for you. Just pray this isn't the last we'll see them in the UK. The way these legends commanded the stage there's seemingly still a hell of a lot of life left in them yet.

Chris Barnes

I'm MusicRadar's eCommerce Editor. In addition to testing the latest music gear, with a particular focus on electronic drums, it's my job to manage the 300+ buyer's guides on MusicRadar and help musicians find the right gear for them at the best prices. I dabble with guitar, but my main instrument is the drums, which I have been playing for 24 years. I've been a part of the music gear industry for 20 years, including 7 years as Editor of the UK's best-selling drum magazine Rhythm, and 5 years as a freelance music writer, during which time I worked with the world's biggest instrument brands including Roland, Boss, Laney and Natal.