The last two parts of our thirty song challenge had us remembering people and places. The third (and final) “song that reminds you of …” is
A song that reminds you of a certain event
And unlike the last few, I’m not searching through memories or songs. Because it’s on video.
Back in 2002 and 2003, there was a global outbreak of SARS. It started in China, and spread across the world to more than 30 countries. Those countries with more than 100 cases, though, were small in number: China, Hong Kong (for those of you who consider it different than China), Taiwan (for those of you who consider it different than China), Singapore, and … Canada.
Cases in Canada were concentrated in Toronto, and there were various official warnings to avoid non-essential travel to the city.
When the summer rolled around, the city and country wanted to announce it was open for business. And the Rolling Stones were happy to oblige by being headliners in the largest concert Canada had ever seen.
I was there, with friends. I had sunstroke.
I enjoyed the Flaming Lips set, early in the day. I remember hearing Blue Rodeo while I was in the medical tent to be rehydrated. I remember listening to Justin Timberlake while lying under a truck, having been released from the medical tent and desperately seeking shade.
It was at this point, I decided that it wasn’t worth waiting until the concert ended to leave with my friends. I would leave. Now. Find my own way home somehow.
I walked towards the exit, but … you know … it was still sunny. I needed to stop in a shady spot, and down another bottle or two of water.
As I sat there, with the distant sounds of Rush playing, the sun was going down. I was feeling better. I decided to sit a little bit longer, and the sun obliged me by continuing to lower.
I still felt completely awful, but with the sun gone I was no longer in desperate shape. I would rather sit on the grass, listen to music in the dark, and go home with my friends (one of whom was to give me a ride) than figure my own way while feeling like shit.
So I walked back. And sat on the grass. Closed my eyes. And just listened to music while everybody partied around me.
And then AC/DC came on.
Words cannot express how good AC/DC were that day. 400,000 people were there. Some were there to see AC/DC, but the lineup was star-studded, and they probably weren’t the reason why most people bought a ticket. Some were likely just there because it was a party. The mass of people was just giant.
I certainly wasn’t there to see them, anymore. I was there to catch the ride home.
But when they started playing, it sent a jolt through everybody there. I stopped lying down, and sat up. Then this:
Unfortunately, 2003 is before the iPhone brought us a video recorder in every pocket — and so the video (and all the others I can find) takes the sound from the soundboard, and does not do it justice.
The crowd was loud. You can’t hear it on the video, which just amazes me. It was loud. At the beginning, when they’re shouting “THUNDER!”, the crowd is singing along. And by singing along, I mean 400,000 shouting it in unison. You can tell at the end. You can hardly hear the crowd. At the end of the song, Brian Johnson says “man, we could hear you.” Believe him. There’s no way he could hear himself singing up there without an earpiece — he would have been drowned out by the crowd.
Thunderstruck brought me to my feet. I hadn’t eaten since the morning, and I’d thrown that up. I’d spent half the day in the medical tent. And I was up and shouting at the top of my lungs, with the other 399,999 people there. It was unlike anything else.
The whole AC/DC set can be watched here, though it hardly does it justice. They are feeding off the crowd, so you’re only getting half the show. It’s amazing how many times they refer to the crowd as loud, big, or beautiful … but you can hardly hear it.
There’s a photo of all of us afterwards. It’s notable due to the fact that I look like a zombie in it. And that I can’t find it.
If it turns up, though, I’ll update the post with it.