IT TOOK AC/DC, appropriately enough, to shake me out of my Australian Rules slumber, a topic I deliberately haven't gone near since Collingwood went down to Geelong last October, despite it being part of this blog's job description. But now the 2012 season is nearly upon us, the AFL has launched its campaign with my personal choice for the greatest Australian song ever - It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll).
"It's ours - the game was born here," spruiks the trailer for the ad on the AFL's website. Which is pretty funny, considering Messrs. Young, Young and Scott were all born in Scotland, as was Angus and Malcolm's older brother, original co-producer (and former Easybeat) George. Scott's replacement, Brian Johnson, was born in England, as was second bassist Cliff Williams. Harry Vanda, George's co-producing partner in all things Albert's, was born in The Hague, Netherlands. The only Australian-born member of AC/DC still in the band is drummer Phil Rudd, who now lives in New Zealand, while original bass player, Melbourne-born Mark Evans, recently published his memoirs of his tenure in the band's golden era.
Am I being pedantic? Maybe a little. Minor blips like where you were born never stopped Australians from taking ownership of anyone who came from overseas and later made a success of themselves there, after they'd been all but run out of their adopted country by tabloid editors - as AC/DC was. The key to Kiwi Keith Urban gaining acceptance in Australia was probably to marry one of "our" actresses, since it's fair to say most of us never much rated his music when he was playing residencies at the Normanby.
But back to the footy. It's pretty obvious that CEO Andrew Demetriou's coup, which this most definitely is - AC/DC are famous for saying no to most things - is one in the eye to everyone who savaged Meatloaf's non-performance at the 2011 Grand Final, often with a dig at Demetriou's apparently pedestrian record collection thrown in for effect. I have to say, I was there on the day and barely noticed the Meatloaf atrocity, being more concerned about the match to come, which gives rise to another standard criticism of the entertainment at these events: does anyone really care?
(I would link the Meatloaf performance, by the way, but strangely it seems to keep disappearing from Youtube - with this bizarre animated defence taking its place at the top of results.)
After the jaw-dropping M.D.N.A. extravaganza at the American Super Bowl in February, however, questions about the AFL's lame entertainment efforts at the game's showpiece resurfaced.
Now, with earlier rumours about Bruce Springsteen playing the 2012 GF already scotched, the question has to be asked: might AC/DC also be convinced to play the Grand Final? Could they be rolled onto the turf on the back of a flat-bed truck? (The idealist and romantic in me wants the truck to set out from Swanston Street, where the original clip was filmed, but let's face it, that's just not gonna happen.) You can bet on one thing, though; unlike the clip, and unlike Madge, the band wouldn't be miming.
Of course, AC/DC are used to playing stadiums - they and their fans having previously laid waste to Etihad at Docklands in February 2010, rendering the surface all but unplayable for that season - but here's the first problem. The sound system at the G for pre-match entertainment is woefully inadequate for the band's requirements. AC/DC needs to be louder than bombs; louder even than the noise made by 100,000 people after a Leon Davis goal in the final quarter of a Grand Final.
The second likely problem is cost. I don't know what it cost the AFL to acquire the rights to use It's A Long Way To The Top - which will play before matches in stadiums around the country during season 2012 - but they would not have come cheap. Even given the game is rolling in broadcast rights coin, how much will it take to lure the band out of post-tour downtime to play a one-song one-off gig? I shudder to think.
Ah, hang it: make it happen, Andrew.
UPDATE: I followed through on this piece by interviewing Andrew Catterall, the AFL's directing of strategy and marketing, and Music Victoria CEO Patrick Donovan about the possibility. The story appears in today's Age (which a few bits borrowed from this blog).