Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Down the River Styx to Hades (a night at the O2 with AC/DC)
As this blog evolves, you will get to know - inevitably - a little bit more about me. This will not always be an improving process for you, dear reader.
Last night is one of those, I fear. At around 6pm I received a late invitation to accompany a very kind American trader friend to witness an antipodean heavy rock happening in Docklands.
Being traders, this involved a large chauffeur-driven Merc from the Oak on Westbourne Park Road to South Bank where we picked up a water taxi (or so I heard it called - see grimy picture above). This seemed a good idea and - when we discovered the bar on board - it became an even better one. Forty-five minutes and several libations later the Dome hove into view.
With post-Orwellian ease (I have seen the future and it is totalitarian, but nevertheless works) we walked straight into the tent of broken political dreams. The gig was sold out, yet at no point did we have to wait or experience any other of the serried inconveniences I associate with mass events. It all WORKS. To mix my authorial references, I felt as if I'd been main-lining Soma.
We were shown to our box. Yes, a box - not very rock 'n' roll. It was full of more friendly, excitable men, a charming butleress - Nadia (left) - who had not heard of AC/DC but likes R&B, some posh modular furniture and - a fully stocked infinity-bar. That means it never runs out. Even the beer. Despite all efforts - ahem.
Also present was a flat-screen TV with Liverpool beating Chelsea on it. Sadly this situation did not endure, but we remained blissfully unaware as the TV went black when the main attraction arrived on stage.
As this is notionally a food blog - though we are, I confess, way off piste just now - I present you with an image (and it is not a pleasant one) of O2 spicy chicken wings in their stylish warming pan.
But to the band. Ever since I saw Pink Floyd from the owner's box at Islander Stadium in New York aged 16 and the view was mostly blocked by an inflatable pig I have been luke-warm about mixing corporate hospitality and rock 'n' roll. There was no pig on this occasion - just a small bell to accompany Hell's - yes - Bells. The last time I had seen AC/DC - twenty years previously - at the Birmingham NEC, they went large on props, including showering the crowd with "Dirty Money" during Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.
But now that the main source of cash in music is touring, Angus has obviously decided to get back to basics. But what basics they are...even with the sound muffled by our position in the Gods you couldn't fail to be moved - nay thrashed - by one of Metal's great live acts. Although Back in Black and Hell's Bells perhaps underwhelmed slightly there was no arguing with Shoot to Thrill and You Shook Me All Night Long was non pareil. Likewise, Brian may now look like an embarrassing Geordie uncle in a pub karaoke contest but the sheer weirdness of Angus (like Smeagle transforming into Gollum before our very eyes) transports.
Half way through I received a text message from my old friend The Dog, gloating: he was front right, being sweated on by Brian. I was jealous.