Flashback: AC/DC Play ‘Back in Black’ at 1996 Sydney Gig

AC/DC fans hoping to see the group back on tour sometime soon were given an encouraging sign on May 2nd when Brian Johnson came out midway through the Foo Fighters’ set to rip through “Back in Black” at Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World, which was held at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Johnson’s presence wasn’t advertised, but it was proof that he’s ready to return to the stage after a long hiatus that began in 2016 when hearing problems forced to him leave an AC/DC tour prematurely. “It was pretty serious,” the singer told Rolling Stone last year. “I couldn’t hear the tone of the guitars at all. It was a horrible kind of deafness. I was literally getting by on muscle memory and mouth shapes. I was starting to really feel bad about the performances in front of the boys, in front of the audience. It was crippling. There’s nothing worse than standing there and not being sure.”

For a look at AC/DC in much happier times, check out the band playing “Back in Black” at a Sydney, Australia, show in 1996. This was the first tour by the complete Back in Black lineup since 1983. They held that five-man team together until 2014 when Malcolm Young had to step aside due to dementia. Drummer Phil Rudd had to take a leave of absence due to some rather serious legal issues that same year, while bassist Cliff Williams retired at the end of the 2016 tour.

That left Angus Young as the last member of the Back in Black era at the end of the tour, but he managed to piece the band back together one person at a time to cut their 2020 LP Power Up as a tribute to Malcolm, who died in 2017. And through the help of high-tech hearing aids, Johnson says he’s once again able to play live. They even managed a hold a full-band rehearsal right before the pandemic hit. “It was with the boys in full battlefield conditions and it was smashing, brilliant,” Johnson said in 2020. “I felt like I was a kid again.”

There’s no word on when they’ll take the battlefield on the road, but 2022 seems like a safe bet. And judging by Johnson’s single song with the Foos, it should be an incredible tour.