Saturday, 27 June 2009


Last night I had my first visit to 'new' Wembley.

There was a time when I seemed to be going to Wembley arena, or the stadium, almost on a monthly basis for either music, comedy or sport. Recently other venues such as the more local O2 have taken over for me.

I had imagined my first taste of the magnificent stadium would have been due to a visit with Charlton Athletic.

When we were relegated from the Premier league, I was fairly sure we would be returned to the promised land with haste, ideally by winning a Play Off Final again.

We know what those days out are like and I was anxious to have a second serving.

I was offered a spare ticket for the very first concert at 'new' Wembley, (George Michael) but declined, partly due to wanting to visit for football rather than music for my first experience.

When I drive home from work, over the brow of Shooters Hill, I always enjoy the view of Docklands, the O2, the Millennium Wheel, The Gherkin etc.
If the journey is in darkness, it's also really easy to pick out the well lit arch from Wembley stadium. I was now, finally going to be under the arch rather than spotting it from distance.

I arrived at North Greenwich tube station for my journey to Brent and noticed the television crews, all anxious to be talking to camera with the O2 dome in the background.

They were there to comment on the sad and untimely death of Michael Jackson, who had managed to (over?) book himself 50 nights at the arena.

It reminded me of one of my previous visits to the 'old' Wembley, for Michael Jackson promoting his 'Bad' album in 1988.
He was at the height of his powers then. He was a fantastic performer.

I was much younger then too.
Standing up for 3 hours waiting for the first roadie to come out and whisper " .....two, three.." didn't seem much of a hardship. I was with friends, having a laugh so we made our way to the most crowded, vocal area, almost touching the stage.
We managed to get so close to the front that when Jackson flew out over the crowd during one of his songs, he was actually behind us.
We also got the most amazing view up modern day celebrity gardener Kim Wilde's short skirt, when she tried to raise the crowd as one of the support acts.

Jackson was most certainly odd in those days but we put up with it because his singing and dancing outshone the oddness. Later, not least due to his rather unhealthy interests and his messiah complex there was a switch and his music became very secondary to his 'Wacko Jacko' persona.

Incidentally, did you know that it was Danny Baker, Millwall fan and ex N.M.E writer who first coined the 'Wacko' nickname? Having the world call you unhinged really can't have helped Jackson to live any kind of normal life.
If you are a music superstar, I'd steer clear of Danny Baker. He's also on record as the person who 'killed' Bob Marley.
(He was responsible for the tackle on Marley during a game of football that injured the reggae man's toe. It later became cancerous and Bob checked out.)

In 2005, Baker wrote in the Times about his meeting with Jackson. Well worth a glance if you have the time.

And so to Wem-ber-lee!

As the train got closer and closer to Wembley Park, it filled up with more and more aging rock chicks, men in school uniform carrying blow up guitars, quite fearsome looking blokes with full arm tattoos and hundreds and hundreds of Bill Bailey lookalikes.

I think it's fair to say that I was the only person within half a mile who had picked out a rather fetching pale blue Lacoste pique polo shirt and teamed it with a pair of retro Adidas 'Stan Smith' trainers.
Black, and lots of it were most certainly the order of the day.

We were all there to see AC/DC as part of the stadium leg of their immense Black Ice tour. They had already visited the O2 in Greenwich during the arena leg but I'd missed out when tickets went on sale.

People are often amazed when I say that I'm a fan.
Ultimately, I'd class myself as a fan of indie rock with a fair smattering of classic punk such as the Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Ramones and the Undertones.
How did I get to like AC/DC?
Well, they have much the same way of performing as Motorhead, - they are just totally preposterous!
There's no messing around. Just full on, ludicrous riff after riff with over blown, bombastic power chords.

I looked around me last night and there wasn't even a hint of any aggression from those present. Everyone was smiling, pulling 'guitar faces' as they strapped on their air guitars and thundered on. We were there to be battered into submission by the LOUDEST collection of anthems.

Wembley was packed. The crowd were up for it and 'Acca Dacca' as they are known in the Antipodes were on top form.

Sensibly, they refrained from playing too many tunes from last years most recent album and leaned heavily on the older stuff we had all come to hear.

Highlights for me included the well known 'Back in Black".
Even if you don't know AC/DC, you'll know 'Back in Black' due to it being used so often in films and television sports montages.

Other magic moments were 'Shoot to Thrill', 'Thunderstruck', 'The Jack' and 'Highway to Hell'.
My almost tear inducing favourite moment, was when the crowd recognised the opening riff of 'Whole Lotta Rosie' and bellowed as one "ANGUS! ANGUS!" in homage to the live version on the 1978 album 'If you want blood' .
I was instantly transported back in time to being a 12 year old, pulling devil horn poses while strumming a badminton racket.

They won me over, the black clad army.
By the time I was back on the tube, returning to North Greenwich, I had my Lacoste polo hanging out of my back pocket and I was wearing a rather tasteful charcoal coloured tee shirt emblazened with AC/DC est.1973.

I don't want to beat them but I sure as anything want to join them.

AC/DC, -live at Wembley Stadium, 26th June 2009. -A Casual Rating.

This kind of rating doesn't really work for Angus and the boys but they are getting one regardless.
My ears are still ringing but the joy is still present.
Absolutely, totally flawless.
An amalgamation of a pair of Puma Clyde trainers, a Sergio Tacchini 'Dallas' top and a Rolex watch.

Unadulterated perfection.


Anonymous said...

I was there too.
It was bloody hot last night wasn't it?

Charlton Rocker.

Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed it 'Casual' Not my thing, nor Michael Jackson!
But a view up Kim Wilde's skirt mmmmmmmmmm!
Got any pictures?

charlton north-downs said...

Great stuff Marco wish I could have been there
Keep on rocking

Anonymous said...

Wasn't it just the BEST!

Anonymous said...

My ears were still ringing at midday .
It was a masterclass in holding a huge crowd in the palm if your hand

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