Making it into the Parken arena actually only meant the beginning of a long waiting session. I was there by about 6:30 and the first support band were to hit stage at around 7:30. I killed most of the time carelessly chatting with passerbys and watching people file in. I was kinda taken aback by how relatively small the venue was and how relatively retarded the setup looked. Tina had texted me earlier saying that one of her former co-workers had been in Parken during sound test and said it’d sounded as if the windows were about to blow in.. And I could see why. Someone had placed two relatively unneeded speaker towers about 100 yards from the back wall, meaning that huge amounts of sound got blown right into the concrete walls and the glass windows of the office section.
The result of this, at least during the warmup bands, were an amplification of a phenomenon known to most Danish live music lovers, and feared by me on this very day: The phenomenally bad sound of the Parken arena.. Sitting in the middle of the place and getting the sound from the PA front on only to have it echoed back at you from the back wall.. Just isn’t cool! But it was something you got to live with after local band “The Floor Is Made Of Lava” (I think?), and AC/DC’s choice for warm up “The Answer” came on and delivered a set full of energy and will to be the best that they could. I’ve never heard of these guys before, but they seemed pumped to be on stage.
Around the mid of their set, a helicopter made a low, slow swoop over the stadium, pretty much stating that hey, the band is here which got the crowd even more psyched and got me talking to the people next to me. A nice couple who’d traveled even further than me, were possibly ten years older than me, but every bit as psyched. I ended up talking and going crazy with them for the rest of the night which proved wise because they happened to have these VIP tickets which meant free beers for the rest of the night.. Awesome!! And cudos for sharing with a poor student! Speaking of crowd, I happened to look back at see an ex girlfriend of mine just two seats behind me which prompted me to feel really freaked out, because, really.. What are the odds of that? (I did he math, they’re 8 to 48,000 not factoring in the luck of the draw as far as getting tickets was concerned). But let’s leave it at that, we were there for the music anyways.. That, and to go absolutely fucking ballistic.
Which we did at 8:43 exactly when AC/DC’s opening animation hit the giant screens and the sound started hitting us full force. Then, a giant freight train literally(!!) crashed onto the stage and out emerged the coolest midget alive, Angus Young, who tore right into the new hit single “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train”.. Two hours of mayhem had begun.. Or as front man Brian Johnson put it: “We’re gonna do some rock’n’roll tonight, and the party starts right here” And from then on, I didn’t really touch the ground much. AC/DC’s sound crew must have done quite a job as they actually managed to produce a pretty good sound for the show.. And while definitely not perfect, all was forgotten three songs into the set when rock classic “Back In Black” caused a crowd reaction louder than anything I’ve ever heard in my life. As someone so obviously put it: “If you can put one of rock music’s greatest classics as the third song in your set, you know you’re in for good things to come!” .. And that we were! Solid rock classics such as “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “Shot Down In Flames” followed with every section of the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs while pounding their fists, fingers and horns in the air in a perfectly synchronized manner. Watching the spectacle from up high in the stands was an experience to say the least.
Then we were treated to a small breather where I just had time to be handed a beer by the female half of the couple I’d hooked up with before Angus (with admitted difficulty) launched into the opening riff of “Thunderstruck” which caused the whole place to erupt again and me to freak out more than a 12 year old Britney Spears fans over the fact that this was actually happening and that I’d just been handed a beer with perfect timing no less.
The only weak parts of the set were probably the new numbers off the Black Ice album.. Not that they were bad, they were just not classics and didn’t really have the same crowd response.. But I didn’t really mind that much. For me, they offered some welcome breathers to just hang back a little and actually sip my free beers for a change. Throughout the whole thing I actually had to remind myself that I was watching people who were generally in their 60’s on stage. The energy and intensity was just amazing. Brian Johnson was all over the place was was Angus Young.. Who still, at the ripe age of 54, methinks, does his strip routine on stage.. Which was a riot to watch.. Because when have you ever seen thousands of grown men in absolute ecstasy over a decidedly ugly midget stripping down all the way to his AC/DC branded boxers?
While Angus and Johnson got most of the attention, it’s actually the rhythm section that deserves the most credit because while they really weren’t seen they’re part of the reason why AC/DC is such a tight live band. The drumming bass playing and rhythm guitar work was impeccable and professional. Simple, uncomplicated and spot on, something only AC/DC sems to be able to get away with for 36 years on end.
But wait, there was more? Of course there were no way we’d leave without hearing more classics such as “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Hells Bells” and “TNT”. The first featured more singing and dancing in the crowd and a lot lf couples huddling together for obvious reasons”, “Hells Bells” were loud as fucking hell.. And naturally featured the symbolic lowering of the bell on stage and Johnson taking a swing.. “TNT” gave the classic rock statement of “Everything Louder Than Anything Else” new meaning. I’m actually pretty sure my ears were bleeding by then but I really didn’t care. One thing I knew for sure, though, is that I DID notice the entire foundation of the structure shaking during the frantic chants of “Oi! Oi! Oi!” during the song.. Crazy!
The ending of the show was as predictable as it was awesome: “Whole Lotta Rosie” followed by “Let There Be ROCK!” the latter featured a pretty awesome light show and Angus Young monkeying around like a mentally retarded kid on speed, eventually culminating in him charging into the sound tent half way down the field from the stage and being raised high in the air on a 10 meter platform, soloing left and right as lights illuminated the entire crowd and tons of confetti shot left and right.. A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!
Though, after that things got a little drawn out for the first time that evening as he charged back onto stage and extended the song past the 19-minute mark with more soloing and begging for crowd attention. I could’ve been without the last five minutes or so of this, mainly because I really had to pee..
Eventually Angus did calm down, stopped his monkey business and cut off the soloing, with that the band said goodnight and headed off stage.. At which point my newfound friends started to move to pack up and leave.. Something I of course told them to forget all about because, as I told them, I was willing to bet the last remaining dollar or so of my student grant that we’d yet to hear “Highway To Hell” and “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)”.. And with that, the lights came back on and the arena once more exploded in almost tear-filled ecstasy as the 1979 classic “Highway To Hell” rang out into the Copenhagen night air.
While I in no way wanted this particular song to come next, I was also dying for what I knew would be next, the full on 21 one gun salute that is “For Those About To Rock” which was delivered in exactly the way we’d expected, crowd chanting, lights, fire and, of course, guns and all… It was beyond epic, and that 21 gun salute, by the way, is beyond loud in real life! My ears are still ringing and I don’t fucking care!
And with that, it was over. As quickly and as suddenly as it had begun just over two hours before. As a large fireworks display filled the front stage area, the band ducked off stage and the long hard struggle to get out of our seats, into the bathroom and from there on home now began. As I fought my way through the crowd, I looked at some of the reactions to it all.. Some had obviously passed out in their seat either from beer, exhaustion or both, others were still standing nailed to the ground, staring at the stage, awestruck and unable to comprehend what had happened. In other places, fully grown, fat and balding men in leather jackets were falling around each other’s necks, clearly almost moved to tears over what they’d just been witnessing. Others again just filed along, chanting “AC-DC .. AC-DC..” over and over again.
However we chose to cope with the experience, we all knew we’d just had the concert experience of a lifetime. For many of us it was a boyhood (or girlhood?) dream come through. And we’re all pretty confident that seeing AC/DC live in our home country was a once in a lifetime experience. At least for those of us who weren’t there 13 years ago when they last visited.. It may seem that I’m just ranting on and on, but it really was that great and that magical an experience. Ask anyone who was there and they’ll tell you the same.. In just as many words, or more..
THANK YOU, AC/DC! From the bottom of my rock ‘n’ roll heart.. THANK YOU!