AC/DC ROCKER ANGUS YOUNG CAN’T WAIT TO RETURN TO HIS ROOTS IN HAMPDEN
June 27, 2009
Billy Sloan of www.californiachronicle.com reports that in a packed 60,000-capacity stadium in Copenhagen, vendors are doing a roaring trade.
It’s hard to work out what’s selling fastest – the flashing red devil horns at 100 krone or the safety ear plugs at a bargain 10 krone.
My guess is it’s neck and neck. For both items are essential purchases when you worship at the altar of the world’s greatest – and loudest – hard rock band, AC/DC.
I joined the supergroup in the Danish capital on their sell-out Black Ice world tour at the personal invitation of Angus Young, the Glasgow-born guitarist who formed the legendary Australian band with older brother, Malcolm, in 1973.
“This is our biggest tour yet. The longer you go, the more people want to see you,” Angus, 53, said.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve played live. But it’s like swimming… once you’re in the water, it comes right back to you.
The fans have probably forgotten what AC/DC have been about so they’re thinking, ‘We better go see them quick’.” AC/DC hit Hampden Park in Glasgow on Tuesday and, for the Young brothers, it will be like performing on hallowed ground. They were brought upin the Cranhill area of the city before their family emigrated to Australia in 1963.
In Copenhagen, AC/DC showed why they are rock’s No.1 attraction with a stunning show led by Angus’s blistering guitar playing, powering through classic hits such as Rock ‘N’ Roll Train, You Shook Me All Night Long and Whole Lotta Rosie.
A finale of Let There Be Rock – featuring a 10-minute guitar solo – Highway To Hell and For Those About To Rock was mindblowing.
When the guitarist dons his trademark school uniform of cap, tie, blazer and short trousers, he appears to grow in stature.
But the Angus Young I meet the following day – in the five-star Hotel D’Angleterre – is nothing like the demonic figure who dominates every AC/DC gig.
He revealed: “The name of the group and the school suit is down to my sister Margaret. We were playing in a Sydney nightclub and needed to call ourselves something quick. When I spotted the letters ‘AC/DC’ on the back of her sewing machine, it soundedbest.
“My older brother George, who was a member of The Easybeats, said, ‘You need something people will remember you by’. I tried different costumes including a Superman suit, a Zorro outfit and once even dressed up as a gorilla. It was Margaret who came upwith the school uniform. The hard part was to convince me.” Off stage, Angus is painfully modest – you’d never guess he’s a rock guitar hero. He said: “I still love putting the shorts, cap and school tie on before a show – it gives you that energy. Ibecome not me but the guy in the school suit. That’s better in a way because I’d be standing up there feeling really shy otherwise.” Angus talked freely about his childhood in Glasgow, and AC/DC’s phenomenal career. The only time he shifted uncomfortablyin his chair was when I asked him to analyse their success.
The group have sold 200 million records, including Highway To Hell (1979), For Those About To Rock We Salute You (1981) and Black Ice (2008). Their landmark 1980 album, Back In Black, is one of the biggest selling records of all time with 45 millionunits shipped. The band – Angus, singer Brian Johnson, guitarist Malcolm Young, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd – have influenced rock acts including Iron Maiden, Saxon and Judas Priest.
Angus recalled: “Malcolm was 20 and I was 18 when we formed AC/ DC – we just wanted to be in a good rock band. The music scene in Australia in 1973 was very middle of the road – on the radio, you didn’t hear anybody like us.
“In Sydney, we built up a following – by word of mouth – so it was a real grass roots momentum. The Easybeats became a big band when they had a hit with Friday On My Mind.
George would tell us to get our guitars and come into the studio for a jam with them to gain experience.” In 1975, AC/DC released debut album High Voltage and never looked back.
Modestly, Angus said: “I’ve never thought of AC/DC as being a No. 1 band. We’re not anything special – we were just a good group who could go anywhere in the world and people seemed to like what we did. Malcolm always used to say: ‘Once you get to No.1,there’s only one place left to go… and that’s down. So it’s always better to be striving for more every time to move AC/DC up and really earn our success.” He added: “Our Scottish background gave us a good grounding. We had a kind of doggedness anddetermination.
We kept at it and never let go of what we wanted to achieve.
“So the best thing about success is I get to be creative. I feel that every time we write songs or go into the studio to make another record. I get a real kick out of that. The biggest buzz is taking songs we’ve created and see them come alive on stage.”During AC/ DC’s thundering set, Angus’s skilled playing is a revelation. He’s inspired thousands of youngsters to become musicians and designed his own signature Gibson guitar.
He said: “I walk on stage and crawl off. It’s very physically demanding. But at 53, that’s what keeps me fit. That drive keeps me going.
“In the minutes before a show, I still get nervous. When I’m standing behind the stage and the intro tape is playing, I’ve got to focus my mind and try to find that little schoolboy devil and get into the mindset of the character. When we come off tour,I usually crawl off and hide under a rock somewhere. I don’t want to live in that school suit persona all the time.” In 2003, AC/DC were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“That’s an accolade not given to just anybody,” he said.
” I had my award lying in a corner in the house when a visiting neighbour spotted it. I tried to be humble and said ‘ Oh, it’s no great shakes’. But she replied ‘ Well, put it this way, you’re the only one in this street who’s got one’.” Tickets forAC/DC’s gig at Hampden are available by calling 08444 999 990 or log on to www.gigsinscotland.com