It’s not such a long way to Taipei (If you wanna Rock n Roll)

This post is about a trip taken by just Andy. Well that’s not strictly true – he was accompanied by a mate. For the purposes of the blog we’ll call him Steve (as that is his name) and their collection of teens. We don’t talk about our children too much in these posts. We could argue that its to protect their anonymity but in reality, we figure that if they want to feature in a blog they can write their own. They do pop up every now and again when they tag along with us – but they’re of an age now where they mostly want to be doing their own thing.

ACDC at QSAC stadium Brisbane
ACDC at QSAC stadium Brisbane

We were heading to see AC/DC on their Rock or Bust tour. I’d seen AC/DC before and on their last outing – Black Ice in 2009/10 I thought they were getting a bit past their sell by date. I wasn’t therefore too fussed about seeing them again. However, the teens hadn’t seen them and they’re one of those bucket list acts so I was persuaded. I was glad I did when a few weeks before, the support bands were announced; Kingswood and The Hives. Kingswood are a Melbourne indie rock band whose music I really like and I’ve seen them a couple of times before. I’d not seen quirky Swedish rockers The Hives, but had heard that they were also a great live act so the gig began to look a lot more appealing. Carry on reading to find out how we combined an Asian experience with watching an AC/DC show.

The premier venue in Queensland is arguably Suncorp stadium. However, they have a ridiculously small number of concerts allowed per year and their 2015 allocation was already used up. The concert was therefore being held in the QSAC stadium which is quite a bit older and much less convenient to get to in a south Brisbane suburb. It is, however, close to Sunnybank, a centre for Asian food so we decided to get there in time to check it out.

The centre of Sunnybank is Market Square which has a comprehensive range of eateries and Asian stores. Just off the square in the same building as a Taiwanese supermarket is Little Taipei (got there eventually), a food court very reminiscent of Asian Hawker Centres. There was a good range of cuisines including Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese. We settled on Japanese and had very tasty and good value Bento Boxes. You chose your main from a range including Karage Chicken, and Teppanyaki Chicken or Fish. This was accompanied by really generous portions of sashimi salmon, rice, salad and miso soup. A bargain at under $15 and nicely washed down with a Sapporo beer.

After a late lunch it was time to check into our motel. Knowing how tricky it was to get public transport to the stadium I booked us rooms as close as we could as soon as tickets went on sale. This turned out to be a good plan as we were only a 500m walk away and avoided the bus queues at the end of the night. Robertson Gardens Comfort Inn was a fairly standard motel resort but it was clean and comfortable and suited us excellently for the night we were there. After a couple more beers, we headed over to the Stadium.

Our timing was pretty impeccable. We arrived at the stadium, bought a t-shirt and walked into the arena as Kingswood started playing. Their set was short and sweet but as polished as ever and they banged out some of my favourites including; Ohio, Sucker Punch, and Micro Wars. I was really pleased that they’ve gone from being relatively obscure to supporting one of the biggest bands on the planet. It was also a refreshing change that the sound levels were set so you could hear the support band properly – not just the main act.

Next up, The Hives, just as a huge thunderstorm started up. It was pretty apt to have thunder and lightning overhead as we were waiting for AC/DC. We got soaked but also thoroughly entertained by The Hives who had the crowd clapping to ward off the rain, and joining in with their songs. It’s a tough gig to warm up for AC/DC and they did it brilliantly – recognizing that most of the crowd (unlike us) were just there for the headliners but they managed to get them on board anyway. The clapping obviously worked as the rain stopped as they finished their last song.

AC/DC’s entrance was heralded by an epic animation on the big screens. A rewriting of the moon landings, with the astronauts discovering an AC/DC volcano on the moon. A fiery meteor breaks free and makes it to earth colliding into the planet as the band took the stage with the opening riffs of Rock or Bust. It was looking like they’d upped their game since I last saw them despite losing two key members, Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar and Phill Rudd on drums. Their replacements, drummer Chris Slade who has played with the band in the past, and Malcolm’s nephew, Stevie easily made up for the absent members.

Brian Johnson on lead vocals was at his gravelly best – much improved on 2009 where I really thought he was struggling. However, AC/DC is really all about Angus Young, and despite having reached 60 he was as entertaining as in his heyday. The riffs, the duck walks, the writhing on his back – even playing his guitar with his trademark schoolboy tie made for an epic show.

AC/DC at their best are more than a rock concert – they are a spectacular. It’s like watching the rock equivalent of a West End show. All the elements were there – pyrotechnics, the bell for Hells Bells, an inflatable Rosie and cannons during their final encore; For Those About to Rock – We Salute You. They were definitely back on form and I was more than happy I’d been persuaded to go along. One of those nights I’ll remember for a long time to come.

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