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By STEVE MASCORD
WHAT do you get by crossing a gnarly seventies rock band with a new age Californian music and arts festival?
You get a female assistant on the side of the stage signing bawdy hits like “The Jack”, “Whole Lotta Rosie” and “You Should Me All Night Long” to the hearing impaired.
This fan video shows the un-named sign language expert doing “Thunderstruck” stage-left on April 12 at Coachella in the Californian desert, where AC/DC played their first show since 2010.
And she seemed to relish her task, swaying her hips to the music – even if a late set change appeared to catch her off guard at one stage. Perhaps she was just grateful “Big Balls” and “Let Me Put My Love Into You” didn’t make the cut.
The show was significant not just because it was the first since June 2010 but also the first following founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young’s permanent departure due to dementia.
Missing also was drummer Phil Rudd, charged with threatening to kill and drug possession in New Zealand. Their replacements – Angus and Malcolm’s nephew Stevie, 58, and drummer Chris Slade, 68, have each played with the global behemoths previously.
If those ages indicate decline then Saturday’s performance before a curious crowd of 20-something indie and hip hop fans did not
In fact, the thunderous opening of “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” and guitarist Angus Young’s spectacularly athletic performance over almost two hours indicate the loss of Malcolm could have a similar impact on the band’s ferocity and determination as the death of Bon Scott in 1980.
Sure, there were missteps. Newy “Play Ball” was clunky live and Malclom Young’s absence was noticeable, particularly on backing vocals and occasionally in his nephew’s playing.
Having just enjoyed the ornate, lush and keyboard-driven pop rock of Perth’s Tame Impala, the crowd seemed somewhat taken aback by an indelicate artform some insists did not survive the 20th century.
“I hope you like rock’n’roll,” singer Brian Johnson warned from the outset, “because that’s all we do.”
An unsure, post-pubescent chant of “AC/DC!” followed by five rather dainty claps coaxed the rock monsters back to the stage for a two song encore, with Angus bleeding from both knees after rolling around on a cherry picker showered with confetti minutes earlier.
If you still want blood, they’ve still got it.