Could the rock legend be rejoining AC/DC back on stage in the near future?
In a sight that will bring joy to the hearts of rock fans across the world, Brian Johnson joined Muse for a belting rendition of Acca Dacca's signature song.
An hour into a set filled with material from across the Devon rockers' career, an excited Matt Bellamy paced the stage, before announcing to the crowd "The best rock singer to ever come from this country... He's back! It's Brian Johnson!"
As Dominic Howard started the iconic hi-hat intro, a laughing Brian asked the crowd "Are you gonna help me with this?", before going on to show that even at the age of 69, and having flipped his racing car just a month ago, his trademark gravelly scream needs no help at all.
As Matt, Dom and Chris dropped rock's 8th greatest riff, the assembled masses explode into a euphoric singalong, proving that classic rock still goes down a treat with the Reading crowd.
Prowling the stage and walkway in his own inimitable style, an invigorated Brian was clearly having a lot of fun performing for the Sunday revellers, at one point yelling, "Hey Reading! F**k ‘em all!"
Watch footage of the performance below:
VIDEO: Muse - Back In Black con Brian Johnson (AC/DC) @ Reading Festival 2017Posted by Muse News (en español) on Sunday, 27 August 2017
As the band brought the anthem to a close, a grinning Brian told the crowd "That means a lot to me thank you so much! Thank you boys!" before the always-energetic Bellamy nearly jumped into his arms to embrace him.
After Brian had left the stage, a beaming Matt announced to the cheering masses "Ah man that was great. I can’t even tell you what that felt like!"
The band later tweeted "Such an honor [sic] to have the legendary Brian Johnson join us onstage at Reading Festival last night. Thanks so much Brian! #BackInBlack"
His appearance with Muse was Johnson's second on stage since he was forced to leave AC/DC's tour in March 2016 or face a total loss of hearing. In May this year he joined fellow frontmen Robert Plant and Paul Rodgers onstage at an intimate gig in Oxford.
On that occasion, Brian was sporting a hip-mounted bag, which some observers took to be connected to a new hearing system he has been working on in partnership with Stephen Ambrose of Asius Technologies - who reached out to Johnson after news broke of his hearing problems.
On-stage with Muse, Brian seemed to be wearing a much smaller version of the hip device, this time on his back like most conventional in-ear devices, so progress has clearly been made on the miniaturisation of the system.
Talking about the potentially career-saving hearing device in the summer of 2016, Brian said "It WORKS. It just totally works and you can’t argue with that. I was really moved and amazed to be able to hear music again like I haven’t heard for several years now. I can’t wait for it to be miniaturised so I can use it in every situation from normal communication, going out to noisy restaurants, to performing live music onstage.”
Hopefully this latest performance with Muse is a sign that Brian could be back on stage with AC/DC in the near future.
The band enlisted Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose to finish their Rock Or Bust tour back in 2016 and Johnson released an open letter about his condition.
In a lengthy statement, Johnson called the day he was told to stop touring “the darkest of my professional life” and assured fans he is “personally crushed… more than anyone could ever imagine.”
Quashing rumours there was bad blood in the band, he expressed thanks to Angus Young and Cliff Williams for their support as well as AC/DC's ever loyal fans.
Johnson did say he was not retiring as doctors had given him the green light to work in the studio. Read the statement in full:
“As many AC/DC fans know, the remaining shows for the 2016 AC/DC Rock or Bust World Tour, including 10 postponed U.S. shows, are being rescheduled with a guest singer. I want personally to explain the reason because I don’t believe the earlier press releases sufficiently set out what I wanted to say to our fans or the way in which I thought it should be presented.
“On March 7th, after a series of examinations by leading physicians in the field of hearing loss, I was advised that if I continue to perform at large venues, I risked total deafness. While I was horrified at the reality of the news that day, I had for a time become aware that my partial hearing loss was beginning to interfere with my performance on stage. I was having difficulty hearing the guitars on stage and because I was not able to hear the other musicians clearly, I feared the quality of my performance could be compromised. In all honesty this was something I could not in good conscience allow. Our fans deserve my performance to be at the highest level, and if for any reason I can’t deliver that level of performance I will not disappoint our fans or embarrass the other members of AC/DC. I am not a quitter and I like to finish what I start, nevertheless, the doctors made it clear to me and my bandmates that I had no choice but to stop performing on stage for the remaining shows and possibly beyond. That was the darkest day of my professional life.
“Since that day, I have had several consultations with my doctors and it appears that, for the near future, I will be unable to perform on stage at arena and stadium size venues where the sound levels are beyond my current tolerance, without the risk of substantial hearing loss and possibly total deafness. Until that time, I tried as best as I could to continue despite the pain and hearing loss but it all became too much to bear and too much to risk.
“I am personally crushed by this development more than anyone could ever imagine. The emotional experience I feel now is worse than anything I have ever in my life felt before. Being part of AC/DC, making records and performing for the millions of devoted fans this past 36 years has been my life’s work. I cannot imagine going forward without being part of that, but for now I have no choice. The one thing for certain is that I will always be with AC/DC at every show in spirit, if not in person.
“Most importantly, I feel terrible having to disappoint the fans who bought tickets for the cancelled shows and who have steadfastly supported me and AC/DC these many years. Words cannot express my deep gratitude and heartfelt thanks not just for the recent outpouring to me personally of kind words and good wishes, but also for the years of loyal support of AC/DC. My thanks also go to Angus and Cliff for their support.
“Finally, I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that. For the moment, my entire focus is to continue medical treatment to improve my hearing. I am hoping that in time my hearing will improve and allow me to return to live concert performances. While the outcome is uncertain, my attitude is optimistic. Only time will tell.
“Once again, my sincere best wishes and thanks to everyone for their support and understanding.