In October 2008, AC/DC kicked off a nearly two-year world tour that would ultimately gross $441 million across 168 shows. It’s the fourth highest-grossing tour of all time, bested only by Roger Waters’ The Wall Live, the Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang tour and U2’s 360 Tour. A whopping 4.8 millions fans caught the show at some point.
AC/DC were ostensibly on the road in support of their new album Black Ice, but most shows featured just four tracks from the disc. The rest of the set was devoted to classics like “Back in Black,” “Thunderstruck,” “T.N.T.” and “The Jack.” The setlist varied very little throughout the two-year run, making it easier to trigger cannons, an inflatable “Rosie” and other bells and whistles throughout the night.
Nobody knew it at the time, but it was the final tour for the classic Back in Black lineup of the band. Before the tour even began, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was experiencing cognitive issues. “He was still capable of knowing what he wanted to do,” Angus Young recently told Rolling Stone. “I had said to him, ‘Do you want to go through with what we’re doing?’ And he said, ‘Shit, yeah.'” The guitarist had to relearn many of the famous guitar parts he had written for the band. “[It] was very strange for him,” Angus said. “But he was always a confident guy, and we made it work.”
All of this was completely invisible to the fans and the tour was an absolute triumph. Per tradition, every single show wrapped up with “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” complete with eardrum-shattering cannons shooting off throughout the song. The tour ended June 28th, 2010 at a massive stadium show in Bilbao, Spain. Here is audience-shot footage of its thunderous conclusion.
When AC/DC hits the road next year, Malcolm will be replaced by his nephew Stevie and nobody knows who will be behind the drum kit. It may well be Phil Rudd, but if his ongoing legal and personal problems prove to be insurmountable the group has been very clear that he will be replaced as well.