Tuesday, 19 May 2009

AC/DC Manchester Evening News Arena, 21.4.09

I am insanely happy right now. I thought I’d be all gloomy and depressed but I’m not at all. Seriously. I’m high on awesomeness.

It’s Wednesday, 22nd April (2nd draft: Sunday, 3rd May) and I’m in form, wearing my shiny new AC/DC shirt, looking at my shiny new AC/DC horns, using a pen from my relatively old AC/DC pencil case, and listening to AC/DC.

You wouldn’t think I’d be so happy, though. Not after all the nerves, and the usual post-gig blues you’re meant to get. Oh well.

I woke up to The Answer’s album ‘Rise’ at about twenty past six, as is normal for a school day. Yep, the 21st was the first day back at college after Easter, which was a bit of a pain but can’t be helped.

I’d had a rubbish night’s sleep due to a mixture of excitement and a noisy owl, so I was pretty tired, but the excitement again made me get up. However, I’d been really nervous for ages beforehand. Yes. I know I’m a loser, but I always get nervous, and this time was particularly bad. My main worry was fainting at the sight of my heroes. Deep down, I knew I’d be fine. I just always get paranoid like that.

I got dressed in black and red underwear, my stripy purple Fat Face socks, my ‘British Steel’ shirt and black cut-off jeans that I’d bought from York especially for the show (I’d been looking everywhere for some for ages, and in the end I actually got them from M&S. They cost fifteen quid which was more than I’d wanted to pay, but I guess I’ll use them a lot in the summer.) I’d be coming home early to get changed.

Nervousness prevented me from eating a decent breakfast, so I settled for a mixture of chocolate and rice crispies that I’d made the night before out of leftover chocolate fountain chocolate. Dad caught me eating this, though, and told me to eat something decent. I said I would before he went to work, but I don’t think I did. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat properly, so I drank instead. Juice and water, not alcohol!

I put on my AC/DC patch covered denim jacket and Iron Maiden Vans to go in. I looked like a walking advertisement for rock bands and I probably sounded like one too, with my loud music. Nana told me to have a good day and night, knowing where I was off to.

I was on time for once, so instead of meeting my friends where they usually waited, I went to Grace’s house. I hadn’t seen her since she went to Berlin, so I had her Easter present – a baby windmill – and she had mine – a Berlin pen and pencil, and an AC/DC patch! It was cool, a black and white ‘Highway to Hell’ cover. (Yesterday, 4th May, I added it to my jacket). This naturally sparked off AC/DC conversation. I asked if she wanted me to ring her during a song and she said yes. She wanted ‘Touch Too Much’ but I knew they wouldn’t play that. To be honest I don’t think they’ve ever played it, which sucks because it’s my second-favourite song of theirs. So I promised her her second choice, ‘Shoot to Thrill’, which I knew they’d do.

When Beth arrived I practically screamd “Hi Beth!” at her. She was taken aback, saying I sounded excited. I replied with “Of course I’m excited, I’m going to see my favourite band tonight!” I think she’d forgotten, but she remembered then.

Having not seen each other for a while, we caught up on the way to Laura’s. I did go on about the concert, but not for too long, and Grace told us a bit about her time in Germany.

We waited outside Laura’s door as usual for Laura to be ready and Steph to arrive. I think that Steph arrived first. I told her I’d be leaving her in Media, not that she wasn’t already fully aware, and she said she knew. When Laura came outside, she took one look at me and said, in a high-pitched, somewhat sarcastic voice, “So, does anyone have anything on tonight?”

We went to college (sadly) and split off to go to form. I wrote a bit of ‘Wine Girl Story’ – ironically they were on their way to a concert, but a Maiden one – and Mr Marshall came over to see what I was up to. I spent about five minutes trying to convince him NOT to read it, especially not out loud and to the whole form. I also remember hearing Slaney make a joke about someone, to someone else, saying “Does she mate with men, then eat them?” I knew this stemmed from a quote from something or other so I asked, and he told me it was from ‘The Simpsons’ where Marge goes mad. Ah, yes. That was funny…

First lesson was Ethics. I think Jonesy looked at my shirt but he didn’t say anything. We started a new, and our last, topic about war and justice, and we talked about what ‘just war’ was.

I had a free second. Steph and Grace both met me outside my lesson – Grace’s teacher was off so she was free too. Ellan was also there, waiting to be in the classroom I’d just been in. I had her Easter present too. When I gave it to her she was playing with it straight away, like Grace had been, before she went into her lesson.

I needed to go to Tesco for some cash, so I got Steph and Grace to come with me. I was chattering all the way – mainly realising all the little bits and pieces I was going to see that night, such as “Oh my God I’m gonna see giant inflatable Rosie!” I told Steph about the time I actually found the giant inflatable woman company on the Internet and she said she’d found them before too. Imagine having that as a job!

When we got to Tesco I got out £100. It sounds a lot but I know how expensive merch can be, and I wanted quite a lot as I knew there’d be some cool stuff there. I felt kind of weird carrying so much on my person - £50 in each little button pocket. At least if anyone tried to nick it I could call them a pervert.

We had a quick look in Tesco to see if there were any decent CDs. There weren’t – probably a good thing as I would’ve just ended up buying them! ‘Black Ice’ was on the chart at about number thirty six, but it had sold out. We soon got bored and went off to Becky’s house, where Becky, Beth, Chloë and Laura were sitting. Laura was there because she would’ve had the same lesson as Grace. She asked where we’d been. When I told her I’d been to get cash for tonight, Becky looked at me questioningly, and I explained where I was going. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t raved on about it enough for everyone to remember!

Having eaten a really stupid breakfast I was hungry. The house had been fairly understocked so my lunch was equally stupid. I ate some of it then – a Cadbury’s caramel egg and a Mars Bar. I also asked if we were watching anything at lunch, because I’d intended to bring ‘Twilight’ but forgotten. It was OK – Chloë had brought ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, an overly-epic, cheesy film that’s good when you’re about ten. Still, it’s better than the original, with the out-of-synch Aslan and the people dressed as beavers…

Third lesson was French. I didn’t have to hand in any homework (yet) which was great because I hadn’t done any. Although it was a Mrs Kiernan lesson, Mrs Lewis’ daughter came in to help us with our speaking. Laura and me went out together towards the end of the lesson to talk about music. I was asked if I’d been to any concerts. I told her that last summer I’d seen Iron Maiden, that Laura was jealous of this, and that that night I was going to see AC/DC.

At lunch, we did watch ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. But no one really paid attention. Sometimes, we just talk loads, more than usual that day because of the holidays. I didn’t eat much lunch – damn excitement – I just ate a cheese sandwich and a cereal bar.

Fourth lesson for me was last. I was itching to be out all through English, knowing that as soon as it was over I’d be able to just walk out of college. Sarah has this thing where she always thinks fourth lesson Tuesday is last. Well, I explained, today it was. For me, anyway! We did about synonyms and pragmatics and stuff. For once I couldn’t care less. When the bell went Sarah told me to have a good time, and I went straight off. No Media!

When I went out of the main entrance, the first thing I saw was Grace coming towards me. Then I heard “Sarah!” and Laura was to my left. She came and hugged me, which was kind of random for her until she explained that it was a hug to give to Angus. I said I wouldn’t get that close, no matter how desperate I was to get covered in Angus-sweat. It was funny though.

Grace was meant to go to the exams office to get some stuff sorted. She asked Laura to come with her but I begged them to walk with me – as I was growing more and more hyper I wanted someone to vent it on. Luckily they agreed to come with me, and I squeaked excitedly all the way back. When Laura turned off home, I continued squeaking excitedly. I said I wasn’t sure how I was even getting there – although I thought we were driving Dad had been checking train times as well. Grace added bits of John Barrowman and we compared our preferred artists and what our upcoming concerts were going to be like. I also expressed a slight concern that had been building up all day. The summer before last, at Scorton Feast, I’d met one of Dad’s friends who’d said he’d seen them. He told us if we ever went, we’d need earplugs for the cannons.

Bloody hell. Were they really going to be that loud? Louder than the music? Loud enough to wreck peoples’ ears? The fear was nagging at me.

When we reached the road that Grace crosses to go home, she told me to tell her all about it the next day and I promised I would. I’d like to see anyone try to stop me! I waved and grinned, perhaps too enthusiastically, but come on. Imagine how I felt.

I don’t think the last five minutes or so home have ever felt so long. I trudged in the sun, thinking about the upcoming few hours. When I got home, Dad was in the living room wearing a Jack Daniels shirt and jeans and Amy was there in her new, spattered, zippy jeans and the ‘Rock N Roll Train’ shirt I bought her for her birthday. I felt weird then. Excitement turned back to nerves as I began to realise: this was it.

I said hi to Dad and Amy and checked they were all right before rushing upstairs to change my Vans to red Converse and my Judas Priest shirt to my red AC/DC one, with the logo, the evil-looking Angus and ‘lock up your daughters’ written on it. I also added my black AC/DC wristband and AC/DC dog tag. Steph gave me that one Christmas. She also gave me some AC/DC hairclips which I sadly lost. I do have AC/DC shoelaces but they’re too short for my Converse. I smothered my underarms in deodorant (the stuff I had smells like the spray they use in bowling shoes) and sprayed myself with perfume – Anna Sui’s Dolly Girl Bonjour L’Amour. Before I forgot I also grabbed my earplugs – I’d kept them since work experience – and put them in my pocket. When I returned downstairs Dad told me there was a pie in the kitchen for my tea, and I had to eat fast because we were going as soon as I was ready.

Don’t get me wrong. I like pie. But I could barely get it down. It was all crusty and thick and stuffy and chunky and dry and just chewing it was an immense effort. I drank water with it but it didn’t help, so in the end I gave up and left just under half of it in the bin, retiring to straighten my fringe and the fluffy ‘Brucie-bits’ of hair around my face. I brushed my teeth. I grabbed two spare batteries out of the charger, my camera, the two The Answer albums, my phone and the tickets. The cut-offs I bought had huge pockets, so that was handy. What wasn’t handy was that instead of deep, they were wide, so the stuff in there slid over to my crotch.

As soon as I was ready, I ran out to the car. It was so lovely and warm, especially as I’d put my jacket on again. I reached for my water – which, I realised, I’d left in the kitchen. I sprinted back through the door which Dad was about to lock to go and get it. I’d put ice cubes in the bottle to attempt to retain coldness for as long as possible. Once I had it I returned to the car. For real, this time. Dad had directions to the arena on my seat. I glanced at them before getting strapped in. Dad got in. Amy got in. And we set off!

I put the directions on the floor as we got going. I’d expected Dad to put on ‘Black Ice’ but he didn’t – I guess to listen to the radio for traffic updates and stuff. And to be honest, I was glad. I didn’t think I’d be able to handle it, for some reason. Nervousness took over. Dad asked me at one point if I could believe it was finally happening, and I really, really couldn’t. Usually in the run-up to gigs, at some point, the reality of the whole thing hits me so that I can start to be properly excited. That never happened with AC/DC, though. Not in the same way, anyway. Not as strongly. Which is why, sitting in the car on the way to an AC/DC concert, I couldn’t believe I was going to an AC/DC concert.

He also asked me who were supporting and were they good. I said it was The Answer, and yes they were. I offered to put one of the albums on but he didn’t want to listen.

We went on my favourite road – the one that goes past the pub covered in sea stuff, onto the main road. Because we used to go past it when we went on holiday early in the morning, I associate it with cool stuff.

My mouth was über-dry. Nervous-dry. The sort of dry which can only be eliminated by tasty food and not necessarily moisture. In this case, for example, water did nothing, though I sipped and sipped.

Dad had Radio Two on with Steve Wright playing oldies, which was good and calmed me down. There was some half decent stuff on there, such as ‘Money For Nothing’ by the Dire Straits. It was a disappointment when they finished. I’d enjoyed anticipating when the drums start on Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’ (I can never remember). Instead, we had to listen to an interview with Lady Gaga. That was strange – Chloë had just been telling me that day about seeing her on TV. She didn’t like her from her videos, but apparently she’d seemed quite genuine and down-to-earth. Surprisingly, she was. And she had quite good influences, too. Why the hell, then, does, she come out with such awful, trashy music? I texted Chloë.

Amy had offered me sweets earlier, but I hadn’t fancied them. It wasn’t until I got completely sick of my bland, dry mouth that I asked for some. Very, very gradually it wetted up again, so that suddenly I felt all right. Amy was reading ‘Eclipse’. I took a photo of her on my phone.

At some point, I got a text from Steph. It said: ‘Hey! Mr. Mannix asked where you were, but he confused me at first because he called you Lemmy. I told him about AC/DC and he sang Stonehenge again. Have fun!’

I’d told him before the holidays where I was going, and he’d said he wasn’t bothered and he’s just mark me present. He sang the Spinal Tap song ‘Stonehenge’, which he does a lot. I don’t know why in this case, like, since the song’s not by AC/DC. However, he is rather forgetful. The worst bit, though, was the ‘Lemmy’. I mean, come on! I may have long brown hair, but that’s it! I don’t have a huge moustache and I don’t have huge warts on my face!

On the radio, there was a traffic update telling us that the road we’d take into Manchester was busy. Great. We weren’t entirely sure how to get there anyway, and now we had heavy traffic to add to our worries.

After this, though, Dad switched the radio to the CD player, and we got to listen to some ‘Black Ice’! Somehow this made the whole thing seem more real, and THAT made me more nervous. My mouth dried up again, and I actually felt kind of nauseous as well, even though I was loving the music.

Manchester wasn’t so bad, traffic-wise, when we got there. It was just the other drivers. Dad kept getting really annoyed when several people pulled out in front of him. I guess driving’s a lot different when you live in a big city, but there were some crap drivers around. We didn’t use the directions, though. We didn’t really need to. Following the signs was easy enough, en route to the town centre. I like cities – you get to see tons of cool things. There was a massive Ferris wheel kind of like the one York’s just got rid of.

Dad told us to look out for the arena, or the Victoria train station that was over the road. It wasn’t hard – all of a sudden, huge lettering on an equally huge building leapt out at me: ‘Manchester Evening News Arena’. That was it! The only thing left to do was find a park. That wasn’t hard, either. Dad noticed a couple of blokes holding up huge signs that said something like ‘CONCERT CAR PARKING’ which we followed right until we met a dude in a fluorescent yellow jacket. Dad checked with him that we were in the right place – he said yes, it was a fiver to park, and they would be open for an hour after the gig. Dad only had a £20 note. While we were waiting for change, he said he wasn’t sure about the place. Something about it did seem a bit dodgy, but we drove in anyway. There were a few other cars in there. Dad said that if anything did happen, at least we were all in the same boat. I’d been worried at first but it didn’t seem that bad – when I thought about it, even if the blokes weren’t official, all they wanted to do was make a bit of money. And we’d been expecting to pay a tenner at least!

A dude in the car next to ours grinned at Dad, and he grinned back. It wasn’t just us any more. We were part of a community – one made up of awesome rockers!

We spent a couple of minutes in the car, talking and hiding valuables. I’d taken my jacket off during a warm part of the journey so I put it back on again. It was quite warm, though, which was nice. There had been a stretch of road where it had been grey and raining.

A man and a woman from a couple of cars to our left came past, and said hi. Dad asked them if they thought it was all right to park there – they said it was fine, they’d used it before. Much to all of our relief! The man was really tall, with a beard and moustache, and the woman had red, curly hair and was wearing a Metallica tour shirt. They were from Halifax. We walked out with them.

They were really cool people. Mostly Dad talked to the man, and Amy and I talked to the woman. They’d been following AC/DC since 1978 and had only missed one tour – ironically, because they’d been in Australia! They were heading to the pub to meet their son, who they’d been taking to shows since he was really small. I suddenly wished Dad had taken us, but I guess I would’ve been too young to appreciate it.

The woman told us that AC/DC were brilliant live, and we’d really enjoy them. I said I’d wanted them to play Newcastle but they seemed to be just doing the bigger arenas. She seemed surprised that we’d come from so far up, but I said we didn’t live right in Newcastle. We told her a bit about our gig history, and she told us about hers, which was much longer and therefore more interesting! A couple she mentioned were the Metallica show and a Rush gig they’d seen on the Snakes and Arrows tour. I’ve recently been quite into rush, so I was very interested. I explained how I found ‘YYZ’ on Guitar Hero and ‘Spirit of Radio’ on – well – the radio (though I remembered I had it on a compilation album and so put it on my mp3 player) and she told me that the new stuff was a lot different to the old stuff, but still good.

Back on the subject of AC/DC, all three of us agreed that ‘Black Ice’ wasn’t their best album. Not that it’s in any way bad, it’s just really hard to live up to some of the legendary material they’ve released in the past. And when the woman mentioned that this tour was probably going to be their last, we sadly agreed on that as well. As much as I’d like to freeze rock stars in time, that’s impossible, and we all know Brian and the boys aren’t getting any younger. Although, said the man, they had been on an eight-year break (I think it’s actually six?) so he was expecting something spectacular, especially with that top secret £2 000 000 stage set!

I heard Dad mention our Maiden show to him, and he said he’d heard some of their new album stuff on Planet Rock and it wasn’t bad. I couldn’t believe I’d missed that, but I hadn’t had time to listen to much radio.

When we’d crossed a few roads in a run, we headed off one way before deciding to stay with them for a bit longer! Instead of passing the front of the arena we went down to the side where there were five big, black tour buses parked up. The man turned to his wife: “Have you seen how many buses they’ve got, look? Five!” Amy and I theorised about why the band might require five buses. Maybe outside of performing and recording, they actually hate each other …

We had to part ways eventually, so they could go to the pub. They told us how to get back to the arena, and whereabouts the town was so we could go for something to eat. Amy and I were also thirsty – the woman told us to drink loads, because it got hot in there, especially where we’d be, on the upper tier. She didn’t know where she was yet. We said goodbye and told each other to enjoy the show. I wouldn’t see them again. Which was really sad, because they were awesome.

This is one of those awkward times when we did quite a lot of stuff, but I don’t know exactly what order we did it in. This is about right, though, I think.

We walked into town, past the Hard Rock Café and through this big indoory-street type thing which had a lot of restaurants and an Odeon. ‘Flight 666’ was showing at Odeons that night – yeah, one night only! – so I ran to check to see if the movie poster was on there. It was! I took a close-up of it. At least I’d seen a genuine poster. That was the best I could do until the DVD came out, but of course live AC/DC took priority!

We saw The Birdcage, a club advertised in the leaflet the tickets had come in. And near to that was one of the most immense HMVs I have ever seen. It stretched as far as the eye could see from the door. I begged Dad to let us in – not that I’d be able to buy anything – and he did, saying he’d meet us in there in a bit, he wanted to ring someone. Amy and I ran in.

It was a disappointment. Despite its size, it had nothing I was looking for. No Brucie albums, no ‘Live at Donington’, no ‘Rock in Rio’, no ‘Blackout’ … grr. If you can’t walk the walk, don’t talk the talk.

We had a bit of a browse before we got bored and decided we’d go and fine Dad. But he wasn’t outside. And when we emerged from the other side of the shop, he wasn’t in the shopping centre. We returned to the shop to wait for him, and he arrived pretty soon. We went back into the shopping centre, where I decided to text my cousin’s friend Courtney. She moved to Manchester from America:

‘We’re in the arndale shopping centre right now! Xxx’

It was a cool shopping centre, with many interesting shops. We didn’t go in very many, though; I really want to go back for a proper look around.

Dad said I should probably keep the tickets out of sight, so I tucked them in my jacket. But this didn’t feel very secure – when it got too warm I stuck them under my shirt and tied my jacket around my waist to hold them in place. I could feel them against my belly, and if Angus was kind of flat and rectangle-shaped we knew they were safe.

We had a quick look in a random clothes shop with lots of amusing and rude t-shirts, and an equally random sports shop, before going to the loo and leaving the shopping centre in search of food. As I wasn’t particularly hungry I didn’t fancy much so Amy and I let Dad choose where to go. We did a bit of shirt-spotting: there were quite a few Maiden ones. Amy said they’d probably be for the film but I guessed a lot of them would be going to the show as well.

We went into the Hard Rock Café. I’d taken a picture of the outside before because it was the first one I’d ever seen, and I really wanted to see the inside. It was PACKED. Not that I’d expected it to be at all quiet. Being AC/DC night, most of the people in there had AC/DC shirts, and the screens were showing ‘Live at Donington’. The song playing when we went in there was ‘Fire Your Guns’, one of Grace’s favourites. We didn’t stay though. Way too busy and probably pretty expensive. But I took a photo of all the AC/DC fans and texted Grace: ‘The hard rock cafe is packed full of acca dacca fans and the tvs were playing fire your guns when we went in … Oh man this heaven!’ She replied ‘Oh my god! I hate u. Did u drive down? Where are u seeing them?’ ‘Manchester men arena. And yeah we drove in the end. Oh my god I’m insanely happy. I want to live on tour. I really do’

We continued our food search, during which Grace and I texted each other. ‘You are insane…But i don’t blame you! God i wish i could go c them! But oh well im going to c my john instead!’ We returned to the Arndale Centre via the indoor street thingy again. Dad fancied sitting down to eat, so after much more searching we ended up at Costa. I ordered my pre-gig cheese and ham Panini and water to drink. I could take the bottle around with me to beat any more mouth-dryness I might experience.

‘That suits me fine. But i bet jonfans do not produce this atmosphere…’ I told Grace. ‘Oh, they produce a different kind of atmosphere. Lol.’ ‘Actually amy said it was like that a bit at kylie… Haha that’d be funny to watch!’

I have never had pre-gig nerves so bad in my life. Ever. I could barely eat. I slowly forced down just over half of my Panini in the time it took Dad to finish his food and drink and call Nick. (He described the awesome atmosphere, and he did actually sound pretty excited. To be honest that did make me feel kind of better.) However, before he went on the phone he made me feel worse by asking us what we thought Angus was doing at that moment. That made me realise that Angus was actually a real person, and that I was going to see him. I told Dad to stop it. He was freaking me out! Two guys dressed as Angus went past. They looked really cool, and Dad said he wished he’d done the same.

There was a young dude at the table next to ours who kept checking out my shirt, I swear. Thinking about it, I didn’t see any others like mine all night. I was individual as an AC/DC fan in a crowd of AC/DC fans!

After we were as finished as we were ever going to be, we got up and left. I got another message from Grace: ‘Lol! Rite now bugger off to ur concert am trying to do homework.’ Aw, poor her. Boring homework. ‘Aaaaw but we’re not going in for a bit! Who will I annoy? Don’t forget i’ll phone you later and it will be LOUD’ She replied: ‘Oh god! I cant wait.’

We had a bit of a wander – Dad wanted to find the tram lines, and he did, but they were closed – however, it became clear that all we really had left to do was go to the arena, so we headed that way, passing a BMW just like our auntie’s. We joked about how funny it would be to see her there. AC/DC are not her cup of tea but it’s sort of like her to pretend to be into a band to look cool.

It wasn’t long before we were outside the front door. I was itching to be in, but Dad insisted we got our bearings first, so we could find our way back to the car afterwards. We’d forgotten earlier due to being distracted by the cool couple.

It took us quite a while. Too long! I was getting impatient. We followed a road for ages thinking the car park might be somewhere on it. We even carried on for a bit after it became clear that we were going the wrong way. Then, of course, we had to walk all the way back, when all I wanted to do was be there.

A small, white car drove past, music blaring out – a proper chav-mobile, I thought, until I realised that the song playing was actually ‘Touch Too Much’! It was mad! Two boy racer-looking guys blasting out one of my all-time favourite songs. Amy and I sang along loudly and air-guitared, for once not feeling at all stupid.

Eventually, we figured out which road it was judging by the direction we’d gone in when we’d reached the arena. Deciding it couldn’t be that hard; and we had an hour after the show in which to find it, after all; we ascended the steps to the doors. I had to retrieve the tickets and hand them over to the woman there. She scanned Dad’s first, and I sighed in relief. It was real! I’d bought it for £120 off a PlayTrader a week previously. Thank God. I could finally relax!

Mine and Amy’s tickets were clearly fine, so we got straight in. And the minute I got in there I knew I was going to be all right. There were crowds of AC/DC fans, like me, waiting to see this legendary band in concert. What could possibly happen? It was going to be amazing.

I noticed the merchandise stall pretty quickly. Well, it was almost more a full-blown shop than a stall. My pockets needed lightening – I asked Dad if we could go and buy some stuff. He let us go while he went to get drinks for himself and Amy.

It was busy as hell in there, but I wasn’t bothered. It gave me time to decide what I wanted. There was so much! I knew there was going to be a lot, but there was more than I’d imagined. I’d seen devil horns on people and immediately knew I wanted some of those. I also wanted a programme. And a t-shirt. You could buys tons of shirts, The Answer’s newest album, bandanas, hoodies … even earplugs! But I knew I shouldn’t buy it all. I didn’t NEED it. So when we got around to being served, I bought a programme and a shirt each for me and Amy. We both got tour shirts, but different ones. Amy’s had the ‘Black Ice’ art on the front and all the tour dates on the back, and mine had the band on the front and the 2009 dates on the back. Both size small. We’re pretty similar heights so we could switch them around if we ever wanted to.

We got the stuff in an OFFICIAL AC/DC BLACK ICE TOUR CARRIER BAG! I was psyched! Sadly we only got one, so we agreed to share it and take very good care of it.

We met Dad outside the stall, where he gave Amy her drink. I took a quick photo of them together, smiling. It encapsulated the pre-gig atmosphere perfectly. Then we went for a bit of a walk around. There wasn’t a whole lot to see. Basically I people-watched – although most of the people in there seemed to be middle-aged men, which I’d expected, there were some women and children. I saw one young woman dressed totally gothic. AC/DC have a wider appeal than people think. I also noticed some posters – Razorlight and Enrique Iglesias were among the acts the arena would host in the near future. It didn’t seem right that legends like AC/DC would share a stage with these other, mediocre artists.

We went up some steps into one of the blocks so we could have a look at the arena itself. The woman there asked for our tickets – when we told her we were just looking, she let us go to the side for a bit.

The arena was immense. We were at the very top of the lower tier, not much lower down than we’d be sitting, which was good. I’d been worried about vertigo but it hardly felt high compared to what I’d expected.

The place was already buzzing. I had a good look around – although the stage was set for the support, among the lighting gear above it I could see a giant bell. And there was a long catwalk stretching out into the crowd. No prizes for guessing who was going to be using that. At the end of this, there was a small circle platform. I guessed it probably rose into the air, as I’d seen similar things do on DVDs and other live videos. I managed to take a couple of pictures before the woman politely told us we had to move if we weren’t sitting down.

Back out, I realised that I’d forgotten to buy horns! Dad assured me there were stalls I could get them from. I bought two pairs off a man who was also selling posters and I.D. tags. I was juggling quite a lot of stuff by then as I’d also taken my jacket off, so it got awkward, but we got there in the end. Dad asked me how much money I had – he was shocked when I told him. “I know how expensive merch is!” I protested, “And I want loads! I love merch!”

We unwrapped our horns and put them on straight away. I gave Dad my camera so he could take a photo of Amy and me together, looking mad. I rarely get gig photos of myself.

Some blokes about Dad’s age came in just after this. They noticed the horns and were absolutely amazed. “Where’d you get them from?” they asked in awe. We told them and they went straight off to buy some. Dad wouldn’t buy anything for himself, and he wouldn’t let me buy him anything.

The horns hadn’t come in a bag. Amy and I found one in a bin – when I tried to rescue it, though, it had stuff in it, so I just left it.

I was really desperate to get in for real, but first Dad insisted we organised a meeting place. We agreed to meet next to an Enrique poster, a bit to the left of the main door as we were coming out of the arena. Dad warned us to be careful. We all said goodbye, told each other to have a good time, and Amy and I headed off to our seats. Seats which, at first, I thought were in block 211. Dad’s was there – we were in 207. We turned back and went the right way, passing another Angus. Save for his immense height, he looked like the real deal from the back.

There were some steps up to our block, too. We checked our tickets with the man there, who showed us to our seats about a metre away. Row A, seats fourteen and fifteen. I went in first so that Amy was on the outside. Two seats down from me, there was a man with beer and a beard, but I couldn’t see any further.

I sat down, put all my stuff on the floor, and took in the whole place. I would’ve said it was about half full. I noticed something I hadn’t seen before – the bass drum had ‘The Answer’ on it. I took a couple of pictures before replacing my camera in my pocket and grabbing the programme to read. It was really smart, with shiny bits. I read through it. When I got to the end, I noticed there hadn’t been pages on all the band members. Where the hell had Angus been? Frantically, I flicked back – he was the first one in there. I’d turned two pages, just like I had done with Bruce at Iron Maiden.

I think that Dad rang Amy somewhere around here. We looked a few blocks to our right and found him, but for a while he couldn’t see us. We waved like crazy until he could, and we left each other to it. Imagine looking directly forward at the top tier from the stage: Dad was a couple to the left, we were a couple to the right. Almost symmetrical, I think, but not quite. We had really good views. It doesn’t sound like it, but we did.

A youngish man in a Rush tour shirt from 2007 came and filled the empty seat next to me. I could see him looking at my shirt. I wanted to say hi – I always envy the way Dad talks to random people – but I was too shy, and didn’t. I regret it now but I can’t do anything about that.

There was music on the sound system, as there generally is, but I only knew one song. It was that one by Sweet – ‘Little Willie Won’t Go Home’, I found out later. Now that song reminds me of AC/DC.

All of a sudden, without me expecting anything, the lights went down. The darkness was punctuated by little red lights, flashing rapidly, slowly or on continuously: the devil horns had three settings. There were also little white lights from phones and cameras. A crescendo of cheers rose.

On came The Answer, to their ‘Everyday Demons’ album art on the big screens that I’d only just noticed! Whoo! I’m not really sure of what they played exactly but I think they opened with ‘Demon Eyes’. I’m annoyed that I don’t remember well enough. I know the songs in themselves, just not really what they’re called. The songs I think they played, though, are ‘Under the Sky’, ‘Too Far Gone’ and ‘On and On’. They definitely played that last one, because I filmed some of it. I also filmed a rather nice bit of extended guitar solo. Their set was only about half an hour, though.

Amy and I love Irish accents, so whenever the singer, Cormac, spoke, we giggled. He has a nice talking voice and a great singing voice – it’s a lot like Robert Plant. Dad even said that himself later. He also has cool, long, brown, wavy hair – I don’t think I ever saw his face. He introduced the band and said where they were from. At one point he asked us if we were ready for some AC/DC, which got a huge response.

There were still loads of empty places during The Answer’s show. The bloke next to me knew all the words – clearly, he liked them. But a couple of men behind me were talking, and I got the feeling they weren’t impressed. Which was a shame, but unsurprising. Although I thought they were really good, and I loved singing along to my favourite of their songs, ‘On and On’, the crowd were there for the headliners. And as the headliners generally appeal to middle-aged men more than anyone else, a band of the contemporary rock scene probably didn’t hold much interest for a lot of them. Understandable, I suppose. Even I agreed that their show wasn’t big enough for an arena that size. I’d like to see them again in an academy show. Luckily they’re playing Newcastle in November! I have my ticket already.

I showed my appreciation as they went off, and the house lights came back on, looking quite yellow after the bright white stage lights. I felt sort of light, and empty – the chatter was too quiet now I was used to loud music. I turned to Amy to discuss our opinions on The Answer’s show, which were pretty similar. I took a few more pictures of the gradually filling arena, and one of Amy grinning. The music came back on again. I was slightly nervous for the last time. Nervous but mainly excited. I knew they wouldn’t be on for a bit, but still, I held my breath at the end of every song, none of which I knew.

I got really, really excited when I watched the soundcheck. The man playing Angus’ guitars kept his back to us so I didn’t get to check them out, same with Cliff’s bass, but I saw Malcolm’s guitars and pointed them out to Amy. At one point the Angus man held one of the guitars to an amp to make a horrible squealy noise. It was funny. Amy was annoyed with herself for forgetting to film the mike tests for Hannah, who finds them hilarious.

More songs. Every time one finished, I paused and waited in silence, but there were still a few more. I had to wait.

And then the lights went down.

It was insane. The whole place, now pretty much full, went wild as the sound of a train filled the air. It was so LOUD! It rumbled through my body. Quickly, I turned on my camera and began to film. On the big screen behind the stage, an animated video appeared to explain the noise: a train running way too fast along a track, in the dark. We got a look in the windows: Brian Johnson was sitting in a carriage, evidently alone, until an attractive woman stood up, obviously having just finished giving BJ a BJ. Haha.

We cut to the engine room, where the demented schoolboy from hell, complete with devil horns and a forked tail, was shovelling coal. Now who the hell left him in control of a train? He flicked his pointy red tongue at us, to much laughter. Video-Angus appeared to be about thirty years younger than real Angus, but he looked so awesome that it didn’t matter.

Then, two pretty young women in AC/DC shirts appeared. To put it bluntly, they were well up for it. There were some interesting shots of their extremely scarce attire, to which Angus responded enthusiastically, the pointy devil tail snaking between his legs and stiffening. It was huge. I wonder what they were trying to say?

The slags removed various items of clothing and began to ‘pleasure’ Angus: sucking his horns, etc. He was, needless to say, loving it. Until one of them punched him in the face! What a bitch! It seemed they had been trying to seduce him into submission so they could take control of the train. They tied his hands behind his back and left him on the floor, grabbing the controls and – breaking one of the levers? Shit! The train was running away at top speed and there was nothing they could do about it! Knowing they were done for, the slags jumped, landing safely on the ground outside and leaving the train to speed on …

A blinding flash. A deafening crash. The whole stage was a blaze of white light as AC/DC, for real, ran on. Phil, Cliff, Brian, Malcolm and, of course, Angus. I was going to stand up but no one else did so I stayed in my seat and went mad there. I was still filming the opener, ‘Rock N Roll Train’ … accompanied by a massive train, dominating the stage, behind the drums. It even had horns.

I could hardly believe it. I was looking right at my heroes and I wasn’t fainting. I was cheering and headbanging with my horns a-blazing, ensuring they were secure on my head. There had been nothing to worry about. Usually I kind of forget this stuff during shows, but all the way through this one I was completely aware of what I was seeing, and that somehow made it better.

Angus is TINY. I knew he was, obviously. Everyone knows that. But when I saw him I couldn’t help but notice, and I was amazed.

Brian opened his mouth and started singing in his trademark gravelly shriek now joined by thousands more voices. It was the perfect opener – it set the scene for the night and it’s so sing-along that it warmed us up to fever pitch. And there was so much to take in! There were four screens showing the band (but mainly Brian and Angus) – the big one split into two, and there were two smaller ones to either side – and the lights were amazing. Beams stretched all the way across the arena, looking almost solid.

They played the song brilliantly, proving that, as always, they were on top form.

I think Brian talked to us afterwards, but it could have been a little bit later. Whenever it was he said something along the lines of “How’re you doing Manchester? It’s good to be home! We’re gonna play a mixture of old and new stuff for you tonight.” Phil counted them in and they ploughed on with ‘Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be’. I think I stood up here, and pumped my fist to the riff. I stood up and sat down quite a lot throughout the show, but I’m not quite sure when, so I’ll only mention it if I remember.

This song was a good contrast to the first – a newie, then an oldie. A Bon-ny, in fact. I love the oldies! Who cares if I wasn’t even born? There’s a general idea that teenagers tend to prefer newer stuff but I knew all the words to this, better than I had for ‘Rock N Roll Train’. To reflect the theme of the song, flames shot up from the train, making it look more demonic than ever. Two songs in and already the stage set had blown us all away.

The third song needed no introduction. I was on my feet again for the posers’ favourite – ‘Back in Black’. Despite its reputation among hardcore fans it was fantastic, and of course you could pretty much guarantee that everyone knew it by heart so we were all singing at the same time. You could even hear it was slightly louder. Not that I’d shut up yet. I always swear it’s not really a favourite of mine, but live – wow. Brian was singing his ‘back momma’ line and it was all good. One of those songs you can’t really appreciate until you’ve seen it live.

After a couple of classics they played a second song from ‘Black Ice’ – ‘Big Jack’. This is one of my favourite new ones. I love the way the guitar on the chorus sounds, and it gives me a really happy feeling which was intensified here. I’m slow at picking up lyrics so I didn’t know some of the words – for example at the chorus I literally sang ‘you know it’s only natural to something something something’. But I didn’t need to sing along word-perfect to know how great it was.

An old favourite came next. ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’. From the first riff I knew it’d be amazing. They played it quite heavily, so it sounded scary and more threatening. And Angus’ hat came off! Usually it lasts about thirty seconds … is four and a bit songs a record? I texted Grace and Laura and told them.

Angus sang, too. On the line ‘but you ain’t got the guts’. I knew he’d done it before but I didn’t think he’d do it for us. His voice does NOT match his person. It’s all deep and rough, a real smoker’s voice. It’s actually quite funny. And he did the scream at the end, the big screens showing his face. His hair is quite long at the moment. It surprised me – on the video for ‘Rock N Roll Train’ it’s short. He’s looking quite good now, compared to recent years, although like Brian he is going bald.

In the first draft of this thing I completely missed out this song – ‘Shot Down in Flames’. I don’t know how I did, because I texted Grace during it, and I even videoed myself on my phone. I wanted to see what I looked like at a concert, as I don’t tend to bring a mirror to see. It was a nice surprise, because I love the song and I wasn’t expecting them to play it. (I’d looked at the setlist beforehand to make sure I knew all the new stuff. I know, it ruins it, but I had to be certain!) I even yelled the line “Hey you! Angus! Shoot me, shoot!” even though Brian didn’t.

For the opening riff of the next song, the lights and the crowd went crazy – ‘Thunderstruck’. I watched Angus play in awe, yet tried not to pass out as the lights flashed in time with the extremely fast-paced guitar. The screens had lightning bolts and other powerful images of that sort on them. AC/DC concerts – not for the epileptic.

Yelling “THUNDER!” with the drums sounded fantastic. You know it will, because you’ve listened to ‘AC/DC Live’ a million times, but like a lot of similar things you can’t comprehend it properly until you do it. Yet another song that greatly impressed me. It’s tailor-made for playing live, and I’ve never meant the line ‘we’re doing fine, so fine’ so much in my life. Amy left a message of this on the home phone, she loved it so much. And we stood up for the whole thing.

‘Black Ice’ came next. I can’t remember a whole lot about it except that I headbanged, and made sure my horns didn’t fall off at the same time. Where I’d usually hiss the title line, I shouted it with everyone else. Although I don’t remember it well, I do know it was good. As Dad said later, the new album stuff came across way better live.

Brian got talking a bit – he said the next song was about a ‘dirty woman’. Ooh! We knew what was coming! Apparently, this woman was so dirty she made Big Jack cry! As if we needed another clue … I loved hearing Brian talking, but I also wanted him to get on with the song, because I love that, too. ‘The Jack’ – the bluesy, audience participation-filled ode to STDs. Because of Dad and Charlton’s old inside joke I’d promised Charlotte I’d ring her during this song. In between standing up, filming, and singing along, I rang her mobile during the chorus – then I remembered she was doing an exam, and she’d told me to ring the home phone! Crap … Brian was doing the chant with us all, and by the time I got through to the answerphone it was just about over. Until Brian started it up again! Phew! God bless you, Jonna. I got to yell “She’s got the jack!” for twice as long. The screens showed some of the women in the crowd. Some noticed and laughed, singing; some noticed and did nothing; some didn’t notice. Another one of those moments you can only dream about when you’re listening to the live albums, although on my video I can’t stand the sounds of my voice. I got so into it that I did my jaw in badly. It hurt like hell but I put it to the back of my mind quickly.

Then came one of the bits I’d been totally psyched over in my free – Angus’ striptease! I looked back up at the stage from hanging up my phone to see that he was taking his guitar off and handing it to a roadie. I screamed with everyone else and quickly turned on my camera to film again. I kept it still so I could watch Angus with my own eyes and not through a screen.

When is it OK for a fifty four year old man to strip in front of thousands of people? There’s only one such occasion – why, an AC/DC concert, of course! Despite the crowd being mostly male, Angus received an enthusiastic response. Of course, he’s only messing, quite possibly the reason why he can get away with it. Off came the tie … and the blazer … he did something disgusting with that, and I screamed “Angus, you dirty bugger!” simply for the hell of it. I couldn’t stop whooping and laughing. It was hilarious. The rest of the band played throughout. I bet they never get tired of it.

Slowly, he unbuttoned his shirt, back to us in front of the drum riser – then swivelled around, opening his shirt to reveal his bare torso, much to our (apparent) pleasure. He was grinning all over his face at our appreciation, and holding a hand to his ear so we’d cheer louder before we returned to the riser. Ooh … what was he gonna do? What was he gonna do …?

The music concluded with Phil’s rock-hard drumming, and Angus yanked down his shorts to reveal boxer shorts with ‘AC/DC’ written across them. We went crazy – Angus’ boxers times five, four of these times enlarged on the giant screens for all to see. It was amazing. Even though he’s not allowed to moon us any more. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I’d known it was going to happen, of course, but still … wow.

Angus pulled his shorts back up and ran to grab his guitar again to finish the song. And what a song. An absolute classic.

(I picked up on something during the strip. At one point – could’ve been before he took his shirt off, or later – Angus did something with his hand down the front of his shorts. I wasn’t entirely sure, but then Amy agreed afterwards and Dad mentioned it himself even later. Scratching or rearranging? Dad reckoned rearranging: “Making sure he’s all there,” he said, when we watched my video three nights later. I wouldn’t turn the sound on until I was sure I’d finished swearing!)

The start of the next song was signalled by the descent of a ginormous bell on a rope, complete with deep, clanging sound effects. It sounded ominous, yet thrilling. I filmed it. When the bell stopped coming down, Brian ran to the rope, seized it, and swung from it. He looked like he was having loads of fun, which he probably was.

‘Hells Bells’ was another fantastic song. There was nothing particularly good about it – the whole thing overall just rocked. It sounded scary. And scarily good. The set wouldn’t be complete without it.

‘Shoot to Thrill’ came next, just like it does on the album. I’d been scared I’d forget to ring Grace but I remembered right away, dialling her number and getting through to her in time for the chorus. She said later that she couldn’t understand a thing – probably because I shrieked as loudly as I could into the phone to try to convey how awesome the show was.

There’s the bit after the chorus after the solo during which everyone claps with their arms in the air that I’d been looking forward to. Amy and I sprang to our feet for this bit, and it looked EPIC. Every now and then I’d look away from the stage for a moment to stare around the arena at all the hands. Imagine being able to get so many people to do that for you. Cool …

They stuck a couple of new songs in after that. First came ‘War Machine’, a slightly darker song from ‘Black Ice’ that sounded amazing when it started up. Instead of showing the band on the screens, there was another animated video. Some fighter planes dropped red SGs and AC/DC-whores on the ground, where a war appeared to be going on, involving, among other things, tanks and the giant Angus statue. The rest of the band were half-animated in one of the tanks. It went really well with the song – even though seeing a concert is about the music, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of a show now and again. Especially when it comes to this band. I think ‘War Machine’ was my favourite new song of the night.

Secondly came my, Dad’s and Amy’s favourite ‘Black Ice’ song – ‘Anything Goes’. The screens went back to the band. Who gives a shit if that riff is stolen? (Lots of people claim it came from the song ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ by The Headboys, I think?) AC/DC do it best. I think this song is one of the ultimate rock feelgood songs. It was brilliant – it made me feel so happy. And we did more of that epic clapping as well!

I also think that the next song is one of the ultimate rock feelgood songs: ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’. You could tell how well-known it was from the massive response it got straight away. Another posers’ favourite but still amazing – I rang Rich during the chorus as it’s one of his favourites, too (he’s not a poser!) It was a lot of fun. Amy and I spent the whole solo air guitaring our hearts out.

When they start playing the real classics, you know they’re rounding up the show. The next familiar favourite was ‘T.N.T.’ Angus came to the microphone for the “OI!”s so we heard his voice again. His face was all over the big screens too. I thought it was really funny how he did the whole ‘women to the left of me…’ thing, implying that he was a woman when he went to the left or right side of Brian. And ‘ain’t got no knife’ … hahaha! I’d seen him do it on live videos, but it’s different again ACTUALLY live. On the line ‘lock up your daughter’, Amy and me both pointed to my shirt.

The chorus messed with my head, as I am easily confused – I wanted to sing the whole thing but Angus was doing ‘oi’s again and I wanted to join in with those. I ended up singing a strange mixture of the two, pumping my fist until the end.

And now, as they say, the moment we’d all been waiting for. I’d chanted for it wit some of the men in the block, but it was way too early, and our cries of “Angus!” (clap-clap-clap) went unnoticed by anyone but ourselves. But now. This was different. This was it. I started buzzing with frenzied excitement. I stood up.

“We’ve brought along an old girlfriend tonight,” said Brian in his deep Geordie accent. Of course you had. We’d been waiting for her all night. And now we could sort of see her … if she was indeed the floppy thing that had appeared above the train …

The riff started. We roared.

‘Der-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner’. “ANGUS!” ‘Der-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner’. “ANGUS!” Etc. It was finally happening. I was seeing my favourite song all of all time played live. I took photos, I rang home and left a message which is still there. On the line ‘four-two-thirty-nine-fifty-six’ the floppy thing above the train began to inflate, and became a ginormous woman. Rosie! Rising the train, pun intended. She was appalling and amazing and we loved her, ripped stockings and all. Man, she’s a legend. And ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ is pretty much a universal favourite among fans. It’s mine, at any rate. I went absolutely crazy for it, air guitaring all the way through the solo and the ‘guitar duel’ that followed. I could use every big long positive describing word in the dictionary and still not convey how much I enjoyed those few minutes. Even though I did my jaw in for the second time.

When Rosie deflated I felt a mixture of disappointment and elation. I remained on my feet as Phil did the count-in for ‘Let There Be Rock’, and another one of my all-time favourite songs began. Another one perfect for going crazy to, particularly after the line ‘let there be sound’. There was only one thing I wasn’t too sure about, and that was the whole AC/DC album discography being displayed on the big screen (sometimes the two behind the stage merged into one, only I didn’t notice until I thought about it later). Aside from making me feel all nostalgic and reflecting on the years and years of rocking AC/DC have provided us with, it sort of confirmed existing suspicions about the ‘Black Ice’ tour being the last, and I was a bit sad. Surely they wouldn’t do that without telling us first?

I couldn’t feel that bad, though, because I was still watching them so I continued to take it all in, looking forward to the coming solo I knew Angus would no doubt be playing. Sure enough, during his extended solo he made his way down the catwalk until he reached the circular platform on the end, which rose into the air. He did he ‘spinny thing’! I filmed pretty much this whole solo in three parts, for fear of my camera battery dying. And after the album end to the song, he continued. Playing and playing and playing. There were some incredible camera tricks going on here, making it look like there were about five Anguses on each screen. It looked especially good when he was stood at the back of the stage with the screen behind him. Kind of trippy, as each Angus was a split-second behind the one in front. A lot of the time I air-guitared along, as did lots of other people, but for some of it I literally just watched in genuine awe. I remembered why my name on YouTube is ‘Angusismyhero’. He is like God.

When this epic masterpiece of a hard rock classic finished – and what a huge finish – the band left the stage, to tons of cheers. The show had easily been a full show – loads of bands play less even with an encore – but I for one was gagging for more and I knew every single other person was too because nobody moved. We just yelled. And yelled. And yelled. Nothing in particular – a couple of chants were started, but didn’t hold out for very long. All we really did was make a hell of a lot of noise. Come on. We knew they were coming back out. All we had to do was wait for them.

It felt like ages before we heard Angus’ guitar again. We roared our appreciation as he rose from below the stage to red lighting and fire on the screens. ‘Highway to Hell’! On came the band and they played again! The floor bounced as one. There’s something about declaring that you’re on the highway to hell with thousands of other people … I’m not quite sure what it is … but it feels good. And on the line ‘hey mamma …’ I screamed to the ceiling, where I assume my mum was watching. Haha. I hope wherever dead people are, she was watching, anyway.

To conclude, they played one of those huge, loud endings, and Brian did some pretty awesome screaming. All high and screechy – man, he’s amazing. Granted his voice isn’t what it used to be, but considering his age … well. He can sing higher than loads of men I know who are way younger.

Multi-coloured lights flashed as the final riff pierced the air and as good as heralded the start of the end of the show. ‘For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)’ is always last and, despite its name, is a good one to close with. I’d always imagined that seeing it live would make me cry, but actually, I just went with the moment.

It was, like so many others, an amazing live song, one that was written to play live. I know anthemic isn’t a real word, but it should be made one, because it describes songs like this perfectly. For me, it’s not a normal favourite; it’s a live favourite. Although it’s quite slow, it somehow means that every tiny little thing about it hits harder. I don’t really know how to describe the feeling. It was just perfect.

The only time I sat down was for the first cannon blasts – six cannons, three either side of Phil and his kit. I sat and blocked my ears, and the cannons went off, and – it was fine! The music was way louder. I leapt to my feet again so I could join in properly: “FIRE!” Then it got all fast and intense and I loved it. Loved it loved it loved it. Very basic language but you get the idea. I never, ever wanted it to end.

But end it did. The cannons blasted away, the song reached a mighty crescendo, and the show was over. AC/DC left the stage. And we just continued screaming. The house lights were still off – Amy and I refused to leave until the house lights came back on, even though some people were going, and a few were already gone. They were in the minority, though. The vast majority of us were still there, trying everything we could to get them back. The bloke two to my left yelled “’Let’s Get it Up’!” From making general loud noise to more “ANGUS!” chanting … until finally, the lights went back on, turning the arena into an ordinary, yellowish venue again. The show was officially over.

We got up to leave and meet Dad. Because I was used to the loud and the dark, my ears and eyes were totally messed up. I felt lightheaded and floaty, and my depth perception was all wrong. Amy and I headed towards the previously arranged meeting place. On the way, though, we had to pass the main entrance and some of the officials were directing crowds out. There was a whole wall of people blocking our way! Amy asked the nearest official man if he’d let us through – we squeezed in and found Dad within the sea of people. Amy nearly bypassed him. I grabbed her and we all changed direction to go along with everyone else. We were talking straight away. Dad asked what we’d thought and we told him how amazing we’d found it. I also told him about my fears concerning the ‘Let There Be Rock’ album covers and how I thought it might mean we’d never see them again. Dad said at least I had seen them, which was true. That was never going to change now, and I was ecstatic about that.

We went down the road we’d previously worked out to be the right one (although we asked another official dude first, to be sure) still talking about anything and everything – the songs we’d liked, how incredible Angus was, the size of Rosie, etc. Dad said he’d known Angus was good but he hadn’t expected him to be THAT good. And he’s seen him twice before! Amy asked him whether he’d preferred the shows he saw back in ’80, or this one, and he said he didn’t know. It was almost thirty years ago, after all. So she asked us both whether we’d preferred AC/DC or Iron Maiden. I had to think for a moment before I answered: “Well, I think Maiden was a better day because I wasn’t at school, but AC/DC did the better show.” Since I said that, my preference intensified. Dad said he’d definitely preferred AC/DC and I realised how much I agreed.

It took us a couple of turn-offs before we found our car park. I wondered if we’d see the couple again. We didn’t, but both Dad and Amy thought they’d seen them in the arena itself earlier.

After figuring out exactly how to get out, we were soon on the road home. Dad said he liked how easy the MEN Arena was to get to. He proposed a bet on how long it would take to get home: Amy said we’d arrive at quarter past twelve, Dad said twenty past (he changed his guess so that it was different to Amy’s) and I said half past. I was allowing for post-gig traffic but there was barely any. Good thing for us: bad thing for me, I guess!

I was amazed at how good I felt. I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t depressed, I didn’t have a headache and I didn’t have a sore throat. In fact, the only complaint I had was toothache! I don’t know why, like. They were just absolutely killing me. I drank some water and between us we finished off one of the packets of sweets. The high sugar content didn’t help but the soft, squishy texture did. I craved more – Amy, however, managed to drop the rest in one of the side pockets. The one behind me and opposite her. No matter how much we twisted and stretched, we couldn’t retrieve them.

Usually I hate listening to bands right after their concerts. This time, although we had the radio back on, I knew that listening to AC/DC wouldn’t have bothered me. I was so immensely happy that I couldn’t stop grinning.

I told Dad he should’ve got a shirt to prove to people where he was: “What if Jonna dies tomorrow?” His answer was, basically, that he didn’t have to prove anything to anyone any more. Still, I said, the t-shirts were cool!

All the way home we were pretty quiet. Every now and again we’d talk for a minute or two about something before resuming our silence. Dad and I thought Amy had fallen asleep, so we didn’t try to wake her up, not even when Bon Jovi’s ‘Always’ came on the radio. Later she told us she’d been awake, and just resting.

I can’t really remember everything we talked about on the way home. I know at one point a crappy pop song came on the radio, and I pitched a theory I had to Dad about how rockers pick out specifics in songs and appreciate them more than people who like normal pop do. Dad sounded disinterested – admittedly I talk like that a lot, and I think that people get sick of me.

There was also a part where some people were discussing arachnophobia, and consequently infuriating me: I love spiders and can’t understand why anyone would be scared of them. It was particularly annoying when they were on about killing the poor babies – all they do is rid the house of dirty flies! They’re helpful!

My mind was on AC/DC all the way home, though, no matter what was on the radio. I re-lived the best bits, of which there were loads. I mentioned bits and pieces that sprang to mind, such as the songs I’d enjoyed, and Dad had enjoyed, the most.

Amy woke up (or talked, having been awake – depending on who you believe) just before we arrived home, just in time to see that she’d won the bet. We got home at nine minutes past midnight. AC/DC were yesterday. Already.

When we got inside, I wasn’t tired. We all had a drink and a brief discussion about the show, saying how in awe we were of Angus and other such stuff. My memory’s not good at details like this. I gave Amy her t-shirt, said goodnight to her and Dad and went up to bed. I was far from sleep, though. I took a picture of myself in my horns, stuck my ticket on my wardrobe with my other cool stuff, laid out my t-shirt to wear the next day, changed into my pyjamas and got into bed, smiling and smiling. I didn’t want to settle down to sleep just yet. I wrote a diary entry; more than a bit hyper, it was kind of disjointed and lacked real cohesion:

’21 Tuesday ac/dc – (doesn’t work in that writing)

I don’t want to go to sleep. I am so happy, happy happy that I never want this day to end. Even though it’s actually the 22nd now (it’s half past midnight), you know what I mean. I just saw the best concert of my life so far. No words. It was that good. What can I say? It’s all gonna be in my gig log anyway. Oh my God. I had the most amazing night. I saw Angus Young duckwalk, strip and, most importantly, play awesome guitar, with my own eyes. Oh, man. Everything about it was epic. Everything from the dirty video at the start to the cannons at the end. Wow!’

I think that pretty much sums up how my thoughts were working at that point.

Even though I did actually try to get to sleep, I was ‘so happy, happy happy’ that I couldn’t, for ages. I kept doing the devil horns and rolling around, grinning and sighing to myself. I don’t know what time it was when I did fall asleep.

The next day – well, the same day – I was still happy. Not a trace of post-concert depression. I woke up to ‘If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It), in fact. I got dressed in my new shirt and horns. I went downstairs to Dad and Amy and talked more gig talk. I listened to ‘War Machine’ on the way to college. I scared Grace in my horns. Overall, where I’d expected it to be a bad day, it was great. Telling my friends all the details was fun for me, even if it did bore some of them to tears. That first break was funny – I was enthusiastically relating to them the size of Rosie’s boobs, and Chloë said I should probably be careful who was listening. True! If someone had heard me at the wrong moment my innocent story of inflatable women could have sounded like some sordid lesbian encounter! In the afternoon, as I walked past some Y10s in my horns, I distinctly heard the words ‘not Halloween.’ Screw them. They need to learn the joys of AC/DC.

Plus, to make the day even better, I was suffering virtually no post-gig symptoms – sure my teeth were still slightly sore, and I had severe gut-rot – but in myself I felt absolutely fine.

Work was a bit of a bring-down, though. After I’d told Ralph about the show, he proceeded to have a go (well – not really have a go, I’m exaggerating) at me about the state of the sinks. How was I meant to know they were that dirty? I hadn’t bothered to look at them during the holidays, seeing as no one had touched them since I last cleaned them …

I only felt down that evening. I went on the computer to upload the photos, and I had a shower, and while I was alone I got the temporary blues.

Not that they lasted. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this good after a concert.

It’s now Friday, 1st May – not only ten days after the concert: the bloody thing was also last month! (Second draft: Tuesday, 19th May. Four weeks ago exactly.) I’m still waiting for the comedown. My ecstasy has gradually faded but I’ve been expecting that really depressing period where you realise it’s all over, and it simply hasn’t happened. It just goes to show what a fantastic gig I saw. It even cured my clicky jaw – it was quite bad before I went, and now, instead of being worse, it’s back to normal.

I really don’t know what to say. I never feel like I understand a band properly until I’ve seen them live. I only discovered this after my first concert. It doesn’t matter how obsessed I am with them, how much I know about them, how much merchandise I own, how long I spend researching them … seeing bands live is the only way I feel ‘satisfied’, if you will. This is certainly the case here – I’ve been a massive AC/DC fan for nearly three years, but only now do I feel like I can really appreciate them. Seeing the stuff from the DVDs come to life – I never mentioned Angus’ duckwalking because he did it so much I wasn’t sure when to put it in. I kept watching him on the big screens, then saying to myself “No, Sarah, watch him through your OWN eyes. You can see him through a camera whenever the hell you want!”

However, there will always be some people who don’t appreciate this. Dad told us later about an absolutely wasted bloke near him who kept going for drinks, as did the guy two down from me. You can drink any time!

I only saw Dad once through the actual concert, and he was ‘giving it rock-all’ (his words) with his air guitar. I did look for him a few more times but could never find him. He saw us, though – I guess it was easier. Two pairs of flashing horns together on the front row.

Should I start summing up now? Probably. If I forget anything I can add it as notes.

I had immensely high expectations of AC/DC. They are world renowned as a brilliant live band. And when expectations are built so high, it takes a hell of a band to meet them. AC/DC didn’t meet them. They surpassed them by miles. I think that was why the show was the best I’ve ever seen – part of the reason, anyway. Mostly it was because the show was so damn spectacular. The last few weeks have been just like I’m fourteen again, getting into the band for the first time. I’ve barely stopped listening to them. I didn’t forget how good they are: it’s just all been refreshed.

I guess that’s it.

One more thing.

I LOVE ANGUS. Sure he’s ugly as hell – as Dad and I also discussed – but he is the reason I play guitar.


- During one song, which I think was ‘Thunderstruck’, there was a camera under the stage following Angus as he duckwalked.

- (First draft) as it’s now twenty past twelve, this log took eleven days. Not half bad considering all the AS-levels I’ve got coming up! (Second draft) the finished version you are reading now was finished on Tuesday, 19 May 2009. It took four weeks. Is that twenty eight days? Yes, I think so.

- Again, the italics thing was driving me mad. So I wrote song titles like ‘that’ and emphasised things like THAT. That’s where there are meant to be italics.

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