AC/DC: Back in Black at Newcastle City Hall 1980

AC/DC: Back in Black tour; Newcastle City Hall 4th November 1980
For Those about to Rock tour; Newcastle City Hall 5th October 1982
After the great nights at the Mayfair, it was difficult to imagine How AC/DC could make any sort of return after the sad passing of singer Bon Scott. When the Back in Black tour was announced, however, the tickets sold out immediately, such was the loyalty of their fans. Everyone was waiting to see how new singer Brian Johnson would shape up. Brian hails from Newcastle, and had already had a taste of fame with local band Geordie, who had enjoyed a couple of chart hits.
I saw Geordie quite a few times at local venues around the North East. They were basically a fun rock band, who would guarantee you a good night out in a local club, but to be honest they were nothing particularly startling. They’d grown out of the local workingmen’s club circuit. I picked up their first two lps at the car boot (see cover of second lp) but don’t play them. But Brian has a strong rough voice, and I could sort of see how he might fit into AC/DC. So I was looking forward to seeing them with interest, not quite sure what to expect.
My memories of the Back in Black gig, which I saw on 4th November 1980 (ticket above; programme left), are entirely positive. I remember the stage set, which was one of the biggest backline of stacks and amps that I had ever seen. It was also the first appearance of the bell, hanging above the stage. I also remember the gig as being very, very loud. From the start it was clear that the guys were out to impress and prove themselves; and prove themselves they did; in spades. Coming back after the loss of a strong, charismatic front man can make a band try that extra bit harder. I’d seen a similar thing happen before when Deep Purple came back with David Coverdale replacing Ian Gillan on the Burn tour, and in a different way, Genesis on Trick of the Tale tour with Phil Collins on vocals after the departure of Peter Gabriel. In both cases the bands came back with renewed power, backed up by a strong lp with great new songs and blew the crowd away. The same was true of AC/DC in 1980. Back in Black is a classic album, and many of the songs remain in their concert set to this day. That night in the City Hall the power, and the passion, were there as before, but in a different way. Angus was, as ever, manic, a twisted evil schoolboy. Brian Johnson rose to the occasion; his squealing vocals worked and he Angus worked the stage together. The setlist was something like: Hells Bells; Shot Down in Flames; Sin City; Back in Black; Bad Boy Boogie; The Jack; Highway to Hell; What Do You Do For Money Honey; High Voltage; Whole Lotta Rosie; You Shook Me All Night Long; Let There Be Rock.

AC/DC were back at the City Hall in 1981 and 1982. I missed the 1981 show; I’m not sure why, possibly because I’d seen them at the Donington Monsters of Rock festival that year (separate report to follow) and figured I was AC/DCed-out at the time. I was back in the City Hall on 4th October 1982 to see them again (ticket right; programme below). Again, a good gig.

The setlist for 1982 tour was something like: Hells Bells; C.O.D.; Shot Down in Flames; Sin City; Shoot to Thrill; Back in Black; Bad Boy Boogie; Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution; Highway to Hell; Let’s Get It Up; Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap; Whole Lotta Rosie; Let There Be Rock. Encores: You Shook Me All Night Long; For Those About to Rock (We Salute You). The 1982 concert was the last time that AC/DC played the City Hall. From there on in, they played in arenas, festivals and, more recently, stadiums. Their next visits to the region were gigs in Whitley Bay Ice Rink and Newcastle Arena, both pretty soulless sheds. More recent tours have sadly missed the North East completely, which is somewhat surprising, given the band’s following in the North East and their new singer’s local connection. I’ll report on their 1986 Whitley Bay Ice Rink show tomorrow.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by paul brown on December 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    who supported ac/dc in 1982 was it y&t


  2. Posted by ken on June 9, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Was there on 4 November 1980 my first ever concert at the age of 14,was blown away by the whole thing.Had my ticket up until around 10 year’s ago but lost if when I moved along with my other tickets from the 80’s Saxon,motorhead,black Sabbath, Jethro Tull etc


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