School talent shows; what fun! In many cases, performances at school talent shows are compulsory; particularly if a student participates in a music or drama program. Even when you choose to participate, you can expect a largely disinterested school audience and, if there is judging involved, one can’t take the results too seriously.
The video below shows 15-year-old Ben Gleeson performing AC/DC’s epic track Thunderstruck. There is a decent enough round of applause at the end, but, for the most part, the rows of seated school students appear largely unmoved. The response to Gleeson’s performance on YouTube, where the video has 8.5m views, couldn’t be more different.
Gleason readily admitted that he was an amateur guitarist: “I know its not perfect, haven’t been playing guitar long and it’s kind of sloppy at parts, but I’m getting better! Hope you enjoy!” Amateur or not, AC/DC fans have taken the young guitarist to heart. One viewer writes: “I WISH I WAS THERE SO I COULD SCREAM THUNDER! THIS WAS AMAZING!!! The crowd does NOT pass the vibe check”. Another says:”The amount of courage it takes to get up in front of a dead crowd like that and perform is amazing”
Thunderstruck, the lead single from Razor’s Edge (1990), is one of AC/DCs most recognisable songs. It is one of only three songs after 1980s Back in Black that has consistently been performed by the band (Wikipedia; the other two songs are “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” and “Rock and Roll Train”). There is a common conception that AC/DCs distinctive power-chord-based riffs are relatively easy to master. This video explains why Thunderstruck is an exception; it is deceptively difficult.
It is fortunate that Ben Gleeson had the courage to post his talent-show cover of Thunderstruck on YouTube. The responses are overwhelmingly positive. “The way he just casually looks at everyone while killing it with his awesome performance just amazes me”, is typical.
Nonetheless, as Little Goblin Junior reminds us, one can’t necessarily blame the assembled school audience for their perceived lack of delight: “To all the people getting mad at the crowd, do try to remember that most of them have probably never even heard of AC/DC before, much less know this song. Yes, this kid did a fantastic job, and nailed a tricky song to play, and yes it sucks to hear no one yelling thunder, but that’s more of a result of the current popularity of different music types.”
After Thunderstruck, Gleeson posted two more videos. Neither achieved the same massive response as he received for his AC/DC cover. Much of the fault lies with the videos. The footage of the cover of Ozzy Osborne’s Crazy Train is a lesson in how not to film a three-piece band at a talent show. Gleeson is barely visible on the far right of the screen.
For those who appreciate Ben Gleeson’s fresh-faced Thunderstruck, the good news is that, after a four-year break from YouTube, a bearded Gleeson posted a short video of a hard-rocking cover of Metallica’s Master of Puppets. As gOblin writes: “Hell yea! I saw your thunderstruck vid and I’m so happy you still play! Rock on”.
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