Setlist History: AC/DC's 1978 Gig That Became Its First Live LP

Is AC/DC superstitious?

It doesn't seem so.

For on Friday the 13th, in October of 1978 the Australian hard rock group released their first live album, If You Want Blood, You Got It, from the lively set they recorded at The Apollo in Scotland that April.

AC/DC was just about to level up as they were touring in support for the bluesy, riff-filled Powerage and after the tour would quickly write and record Highway to Hell which inevitably catapulted their career.

So 1978 AC/DC was lightning in a bottle. Pure, raw energy.

No pyrotechnics, inflatable creatures, cannons, church bells or gimmicks... except the hyperactive schoolboy with the book bag on his back wailing on the Gibson SG.

Kicking off with the new tune "Riff Raff" from Powerage, its nonsensical lyrics are just placeholders for Angus Young's antics and Malcolm Young's riffs.

See it on television every day / Hear it on the radio
It ain't humid but it sure is hot/ Down in Mexico

The hypnotic thing about Bon Scott at the mic, though, is he delivers the lines so casually, and literally looks like he just got off a bus with his jeans with no belt and v-neck hoodie, that you immediately lower expectations.

Meanwhile Angus is running back and forth, duck-walking, bobbing his head up and down, marching in place on the beat. His eyes are rarely on the crowd. At times he either seems lost in the groove, or too shy to look into the soul of the audience.

In 2020 the guitar hero admitted he still gets nervous before shows and once even had to get some support from his older brother, the rhythm guitarist, in the form of a foot.

"Suddenly I just felt a boot and I was on," Angus explained. "And there’s this deathly silence. All you can do is play - and pray! You put your head down and hope a bottle doesn’t come your way. That became part of my stage act. I learnt to duck and keep moving."

The Apollo in Glasgow, as opposed to the one in Harlem, might not be a household name, but before it was converted to a movie theater it hosted some great shows, a few that were captured on vinyl like this one.

Rush recorded side two of Exit... Stage Left at the Apollo, as was Live Jam by the Jam, and Paul McCartney's Wings tune "Coming Up (Live at Glasgow)."

But can Rush's "Closer to the Heart" compare to Angus' solo in "Bad Boy Boogie?" Fortunately the show was filmed and you watch a shirtless Bon Scott dancing around and a sweaty Angus plays some of the best blues during his little breakdown riling the crowd up before leading the band back into the climatic reprise.

"Gonna tell you another story / gonna tell you another lie," Bon warns when his moment in the spotlight returns.

“The whole band means it, and you can hear it," Keith Richards said about the band in '78 after Powerage was released with the addition of new bassist Cliff Williams who replaced Mark Evans who had been fired.

The live recording that night was so good Atlantic Records decided to scrap the idea of creating a greatest hits album of the first five studio LPs, which were all bangers (although not yet so financially), and turn the Glasgow show into the live album, If You Want Blood, You Got It.

It was a genius move because as solid as the band were in the studio, and as close to the live sound that they could get, how do you top an actual audience and feedback and the extended solos of a concert performance. Plus, let's face it, AC/DC is almost super human in person. Particularly Angus.

Exhibit A, "Let There Be Rock," which completed the regular set that night.

The now-fully charged guitarist, shirtless, hair whipping sweat all over the first few rows, embodying the Creation story of rock music and the concerts we love.

For the encore, the band emerged from backstage wearing the Scottish national soccer uniforms as '78 World Cup was a month away and, lets just say most of Europe was hyped.

This act of nationalism, both the Youngs and Scott were born in Scotland, went over so well that in 2021 Umbro, the sponsor of the '78 team re-released the uniform but modified it with an AC/DC patch.

Many consider If You Want Blood one of the finest live albums ever recorded and who can argue. It's solid, tight, rockin, and fat-free.

From beginning to end it is pure energy, which is why when AC/DC released their second live album, Malcolm said he liked the first one better.

AC/DC is recovering from its rave reviews at Power Trip where 5 of the 24 songs they rocked in the desert were also performed that night in Glasgow.

Keep your eye on their website for news about a forthcoming tour.

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Last updated: 24 Feb 2024, 19:56 Etc/UTC