For those about to Rock......We Salute You!



Well Dear Reader, once again it has been an absolute eternity since I added anything to this corner of the internet.

Call it writer's block, a hectic lifestyle, a fear of the blank screen, a lack of motivation or a complete inability to get off my fat arse and write anything of note, or anything for that matter.

To be honest it was probably due to a combination of all of the above.

Anyway, here I am and I am ready to go. It's nice to be back and I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts as much as I do spilling them out onto the internet for all sorts of weirdos to peruse at their leisure when they're finally done surfing 'special interest' sites.

So, as I sit here on the balcony of our wee apartment, flexing my fingers, cold beer by my laptop and a full pack of cigarettes just asking to be consumed and with the music playing in the background, I'm finally ready if you are?

But first a sip of beer.

And maybe I'll spark up a ciggy too.

That's better!

So what is it that has me back on the internet frantically typing at my keyboard lest I forget any of the sentences before I get them out onto the screen?

Tonight my friends, in less than 6 hours I will be privy to something very special.

Very special indeed.

Tonight, I will be witness to something that I never thought I would get a chance to enjoy in my life. Something that I thought I had passed up the perfect opportunity to indulge in, back when I was studying in Belfast, some 18 years ago.

But patience is a great virtue and fast forward 18 years (and my, how that time has flown!) on a journey that has taken me to the other side of the planet; I now have a chance to make amends on something that I have regretted for much of my adult life.

For tonight, Dear Reader, I am joining 50,000 other like-minded people to watch that greatest of rock and roll bands, AC/DC, perform at the QSAC sports stadium on the outskirts of Brisbane.

To say that I am excited would be an understatement of the highest order. Christ, I'm getting nervous just thinking about it. Yes, the 'Rock and Roll Train' that are AC/DC will be playing, tonight, in my adopted home town. Yes, it's a Thursday evening and I've got work tomorrow – but to hell with all that, for tonight I will be living and breathing all things AC/DC.

I am one of those 'about to rock' and yes boys 'you can salute me' all you like for I know I will be returning my own salute of sorts, arms raised against the balmy evening sky as I head-bang to some of the greatest guitar riffs ever dreamed of by mankind and I cannot wait for you to 'shake me all night long'.

Now I understand that some of you out there think that this kind of music is an awful assault on the eardrums but I am here to tell you that 'Rock and Roll ain't noise pollution' and I can safely say that 'There's gonna be some rocking' tonight.

But it wasn't always like this for your humble scribe.

Oh no – AC/DC and I have been on a long journey together and it's hard to believe that back when I was a not-so-troublesome teen that there was actually a stage in my life that, unbelievably, I didn't even like rock and roll.

So what was my seminal moment?

How did I change from being a spotty teenager going to my first ever concert to sing along with that Norwegian pop act, Aha, (oh the shame of it) to a spotty man in his 30's freaking out because he is finally getting to realise his dream of seeing AC/DC live?

Indulge me in a little walk down memory lane if you would please. It won't take long.

The school summer holidays in my home town of Ballyclare, Northern Ireland, were a frustrating time for a pre-pubescent boy. Yes, we had nine long, glorious weeks off from school and yes, it didn't get dark until after ten in the evening (a fact that is hard to believe, now that I am living in a country where it doesn't stay light much after seven, even at the height of summer.)

The thing was though – there wasn't much for us to do to entertain ourselves back in those days. The fancy leisure centre that now sits at the foot of the town was only a town planner's wet dream at that stage.

Although the new leisure centre must have been gratefully received by Ballyclare's previous leisure centre – the sheep tied to the lamp post at the Town Hall....

Auch – I know it's an old joke but we're indulging here!

The two tennis courts in town saw a helluva lot of action in the weeks before, during and after Wimbledon but 2 tennis courts and no booking systems meant for a frustrating day of waiting for all concerned in my hometown. For that reason alone, I can safely say that we're going to have to wait a while before a Ballyclarian graces the Centre Court.

But I digress.

The other thing that we all did as boys running about with long days to fill and way too much energy to burn was play football. And lots of it. We were always playing football. We would get up early in the morning (not surprisingly a lot earlier than if we were having to get up for school), make a picnic and then go down to the local park and kick ball.

All day long.

Every day of the week.

For hours on end we kicked a ball around, pausing only to eat our sandwiches and to lie in the grass telling silly stories, taking the mickey out of each other. They were great times indeed.

One day, however, the football picnic was rocked (quite literally) by a new addition to the experience. My best mate at the time, 'Browner,' had received a ghetto blaster for his birthday. It was a big behemoth of a beast that he would lug down to the park to play some tunes on as we played our football. No fancy IPods and docking stations back in those days.

On the first day, he brought two cassettes (Google it for those that are two young to remember) that his cousin had lent him. These were 'The Number of the Beast' by Iron Maiden and 'Back in Black' by AC/DC.

I can still remember to this day when I heard Back in Black's opening track 'Hells Bells' for the first time. The moody bell and then the haunting opening riff.....

I was hooked.

Completely.

To this day, this remains one of my favourite albums of all time. And I am not the only one who would seem to think like this. Back in Black went on to be the world's second-best selling album of all time, shipping no fewer than 45 million copies world-wide, a figure bettered only by Michael Jackson's 'Thriller.'

To say it had a profound effect on me is again an understatement that does not do justice to what happened. The rest of the summer was spent obtaining - by hook or by crook – everything that AC/DC and Iron Maiden had ever produced. Suddenly bands much heavier became 'must haves' in my small but burgeoning record collection.

Aha were confined to the annals of my own short history. So much so in fact, that the next concert I went to watch, just a few short months later were New York thrash metal band, Anthrax, at Bangor Leisure Centre. (Oh yes – la de da Bangor had a leisure centre.)

Incidentally, Saturday just passed, I got to see Anthrax again at a festival here in Brisbane. Strange how the world re-connects every now and then, isn't it?

Ever since that summer, I have been into rock and to be honest, I cannot see a time when the sight and sound of a rock band performing live on stage will not get my heart pumping and my blood racing. It is just One of Those Things.

So tonight, I am going to watch the daddy's of them all, AC/DC, playing to their 'home' crowd.

And therein lies a thing about this vast, great country that I now live in....

Australia unashamedly adopts anyone and everyone who Makes It and has anything to do with their country. What other country could seriously lay claim to a band formed by three young brothers from 12,000 miles away in Glasgow, Scotland and are now fronted by a Geordie from Gateshead in the north east of England?

Jimmy Barnes, Russel Crowe, Crowded House and don't even get me started on Northern Ireland born actor, Sam Neill.....they've all been claimed as home-grown Aussies.

In fact, the other evening, I saw a television interview with Colin Hay, the lead singer of Men at Work, (they of 'Do you come from a land Down Under' fame) and there he was 'Och Aye'ing' to his heart's content. The guy is from Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, Scotland for goodness sake!

But that's the thing about Oz. It is a complete melting pot of people from all walks of life and all nationalities all clubbing together to make this such a fantastic place to live. If only they could move it a bit close to Northern Ireland and then we'd all be a lot better off for it....

Rather fittingly, as I draw these musings to a close, 'For Those About to Rock....We Salute You,' has just come on the IPod and seeing as that's what I am about to do, I'll love you and leave you as I go to don my AC/DC 'Highway to Hell Tour' T-shirt circa 1979 and warm up my neck muscles for some serious head banging before I go to 'Beat Around the Bush' with AC/DC.

AC/DC – 'Have a Drink On Me'!!

This blog was brought to you by Pure Blonde Low Carbohydrate beer, a pack of Peter Stuyvesant Classics and of course the entire back catalogue of that finest vintage of rockers, AC/DC.

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