AC/DC appearance at the Power Trip festival on Saturday night in Indio, Calif., will bring to an end the longest break between performances in the band’s history.

It’s been seven years since AC/DC played their last concert, which took place on Sept. 20, 2016, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. That night’s performance brought to a close the band’s Rock or Bust world tour, a run of over 80 shows spanning 21 countries.

The Philadelphia finale saw AC/DC rocking through 25 songs, the longest set list of the entire Rock or Bust trek. Axl Rose fronted the band that night, as he did for the final 24 dates of the tour. The Guns N’ Roses frontman took over after Brain Johnson was forced to step away due to health problems.

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The show also ostensibly served as a farewell for Cliff Williams, who announced he’d be retiring after the tour. To honor the bassist, Angus Young brought Williams into the spotlight during "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)," to the delight of the thousands in attendance.

Since then, AC/DC have weathered a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Here’s what’s been going on with the band since their last show.

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How Did Brian Johnson Regain His Hearing?

Johnson had been dealing with hearing problems for years, a byproduct of decades fronting one of rock’s loudest groups. In March 2016, he was given a grim prognosis: retire from performing or risk going permanently deaf. AC/DC postponed dates, but eventually finished the Rock or Bust tour with Rose.

“I called Tim, the tour manager, on my mobile right there in the room to tell him that I just couldn’t continue,” Johnson later recalled. “It was one of the most difficult conversations of my life – the pain of it made worse over the weeks that followed when the tour simply went on without me. It was a sheer cliff. I didn’t tumble down; I was in free fall.”

Johnson appeared to have retired for good. Rumors even circulated that Rose would stay on with AC/DC after the current tour was completed. Then a technician who was working on a new kind of in-ear monitor approached Johnson, and things took a turn for the better.

“Whatever magic he used, it worked. I could hear again – even in my deaf ear, meaning I was able to enjoy stereo [again],” Johnson added. “Suddenly, I felt something that I hadn’t felt in what seemed like an eternity: Hope.”

When Did Malcolm Young Die?

Malcolm Young, AC/DC’s rhythm guitarist and co-founder, died on Nov. 18, 2017, at the age of 64. He'd been dealing with the effects of dementia for several years. Young had also undergone lung and heart operations, and the combination of ailments eventually forced him from the band. He retired from AC/DC, and the loss of one of the group’s central figures hit hard.

"When Malcolm left AC/DC in 2014, the heart of the band stopped beating," Johnson subsequently confessed. "To this day, I miss him more than I could ever put into words. He never missed a trick, from a band member's performance to a crew member's wellbeing. I don't know how he did it."

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Johnson added: "His guitar playing was masterful and behind that powerful sound, there was a subtlety that music critics could never understand. Standing to his right onstage, I could only ever marvel at the man. But I kept my admiration to myself for the most part because he wasn't the kind of guy who enjoyed taking a compliment."

Stevie Young, Malcolm’s nephew, has replaced him in AC/DC since his retirement.

Who Played on AC/DC's ‘Power Up’?

Rumors of new material from AC/DC percolated for the better part of two years. Pictures of band members outside the Vancouver recording studio where they’d recorded their three previous albums surfaced in August 2018. Drummer Phil Rudd, who was out of AC/DC during the Rock or Bust tour as he served a sentence for drug-related charges, was rumored to be back. Then came reports that Williams had returned, as well. Whispers about unheard recordings by Malcolm Young also began to spread.

Finally, in October 2020, AC/DC made it official by announcing their 17th album. Power Up was released a month later, garnering positive reviews. Johnson, Rudd and Williams were all back in the fold. The LP debuted at No. 1 in 21 countries, reaching the top spot on the Billboard 200 in America. Later, Power Up earned AC/DC a pair of nominations at the Grammy Awards.

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Why Did AC/DC's Cliff Williams Retire?

Cliff Williams eventually revealed that health problems had contributed to his initial retirement. “To be quite frank, [Rock or Bust] was not an easy tour to finish,” he told Rolling Stone. “I had some health issues that I won’t bore you with the details of, but I had stuff going on while I was on the road – terrible vertigo. For me, I just thought that it was my time.”

When Johnson and Rudd returned to AC/DC, Williams had a change of heart. “It was like the old band back together,” he added. “It was not like starting over again, but as close to the band that’s been together for 40-plus years as we can possibly make it. I didn’t want to miss that.”

AC/DC noted that Williams is “coming out of retirement” for the Power Trip gig, suggesting that he may not be sticking around if further performances are announced. Rudd, meanwhile, seems to be out of the band once more, at least temporarily. Rehearsal video indicated that Matt Laug would be on drums at Power Trip.

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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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