AC/DC are one of the best rock and roll bands ever to strap on a guitar. You just have to hear one of those booming riffs blare out and you are taken to a better place. It doesn’t matter if you are a drunk eighteen-year-old in a field or an aging rocker reliving your youth, AC/DC are universal. And yet all good things must die, and in the last few years it feels like time has finally caught up with this particular behemoth.
First there was Malcolm Young’s departure from the band. Malcolm may not have been the face of AC/DC, but he was its spine. Those rhythm guitar parts are what made those songs and the man has written more riffs on one classic AC/DC album than most bands have in their lives. Then there was Phil Rudd’s run in with the law, which has seen him taken well and truly out of the picture. Finally, last night the news came out that Brian Johnson will no longer be able to tour with the band. It feels like the final nail in the coffin and quite frankly, maybe its time.
Now don’t get me wrong, I would be happy enough to go on watching AC/DC shows till the end of time. No matter how old they get they still bring the thunder and having been lucky enough to see them twice my biggest regret is I haven’t seen them another twenty times. But times a bitch and I’d rather see AC/DC go out on top than fade away into Rolling Stone style wankery. Their last album was solid, but without Malcolm and Johno can they deliver that again? I know it seems weird to talk about Brian Johnson, the man who replaced Bon Scott, as being irreplaceable, but at this stage in their career he may just be that and even if he’s not, with all respect for Stevie Young, Malcolm is.
There’s also the fact that there is no shame in retiring now. AC/DC have literally done it all. For a band playing rock and roll the way they do, with no compromises, they have taken over the world. The number of acts that have been as big for as long as they have can be counted on one hand, particularly since all the albums apparently sound the same. They are rock and roll and nothing will ever change that.
And yet, I don’t want to say goodbye. The current suggestion seems to be that they’ll finish up their current tour dates with a guest vocalist and see where it goes from there but I can’t see it going anywhere but Angus putting that old school boy costume in the cupboard and having a well earned rest. It’s a sad idea but one that points to something bigger, a passing of the guard that now needs to happen. With this year seemingly being determined to prove that our hereos aren’t immortal this is just another nail in that coffin. Thankfully, much like Lemmy and Bowie, the music will live on whether they decide to power on or not and for that we can all be thankful.