Friday, November 28, 2008
General Motors Place
Vancouver, BC Canada
***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
Somehow, along my own 25-year path of hard rock and heavy metal fandom, seeing AC/DC live eluded me. Not sure how, not sure why but I always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time to actually catch the legendary live show of the godfathers of three-chord hard rock. Frankly, when the band announced a stop in Vancouver in support of its latest album, BLACK ICE, I assumed the trend would continue as hungry AC/DC fans snapped up all 15,000 seats in a jaw-dropping four minutes flat when they went on sale. Fortunately, our friends at Live Nation were kind enough to grant me a press pass to cover the show and write the review you are now reading. Unlike some of the folks with too much money to burn (I overheard one guy bragging he had paid a scalper $2,500 for a pair of tickets outside before the show), my comp ticket got me great seats and a chance to photograph the band, as well, so many thanks to them for that privilege!
In my review of BLACK ICE (read HERE), I commented that the new record is AC/DC’s most solid and enjoyable record overall since 1980’s landmark, BACK IN BLACK. Many others seem to think so, as well, as the album is currently topping charts around the world—quite a feat for a band whose average age is 56! The band’s nearly two-hour set managed to squeeze in five BLACK ICE tracks amongst the bulk of the songs that were drawn from 1981’s FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK (WE SALUTE YOU) album and earlier. In fact, “Thunderstruck,” taken from 1990’s THE RAZOR’S EDGE, was the only song released since 1981 that did make it into the set. The band obviously knows where its fanbase lies and while many pledge allegiance to FLICK OF THE SWITCH, the eighties and nineties were not kind to the band, as BLOW UP YOUR VIDEO, FLY ON THE WALL, BALLBREAKER and STIFF UPPER LIP were duds by any measure.
But the sea of blinking red horns that cascaded across General Motors Place didn’t show any sign of disappointment as “Thunderstruck,” “Back In Black,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Hells Bells” and “Highway To Hell”—all bona fide rock and roll classics—sent the crowd into a frenzy with anthemic sing-alongs and blood-surging choruses. The band, of course, was spot-on. Brian Johnson’s whiskey-and-broken-glass rasp sounds as it does on record, a unique and instantly recognizable instrument that remains as potent today as it did two decades ago. Guitarist Angus Young, still sporting his trademark schoolboy outfit, looks his age now and the humor of witnessing 15,000 people at the edge of their seats waiting for a thin, balding man to drop his pants put a smile on my face. Doing his patented head bobs, duck walk and floor spin lit everyone up, too, but as Young executed bluesy solos on “The Jack” and “Let There Be Rock,” the crowd was in the palm of his hand.
A pair of massive video screens projected various images throughout the show but the highlight was the opening animated intro, which featured Young on board a runaway train with nubile young girlies molesting him. The overt innuendo and metaphors were great and built to a crescendo as the train “crashed” through the video screen and the band appeared with a thirty-foot high train resting atop Phil Rudd’s drum riser. Besides the video, pyro effects augmented “TNT,” a massive black bell descended from the roof which Johnson proceeded to ride, the cannons blasted off to conclude “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)” and a giant inflatable skank straddling the train tapped her foot to “Whole Lotta Rosie.” Nothing spells excess like a fifty-foot tall obese woman with ripped fishnets and too much makeup and AC/DC gave Vancouver plenty of bang for its entertainment buck (though I doubt our friend who coughed up two grand felt that way).
Rock ‘n Roll Train
Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be
Back In Black
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Shoot To Thrill
You Shook Me All Night Long
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Angus Young Guitar Solo
Highway To Hell
For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)
Many could never have predicted AC/DC would be selling out stadiums and topping music charts in 2008 but stranger things have happened. Maybe its nostalgia, maybe it’s the power of timeless rock and roll but a sold-out crowd certainly showed no sign of disappointment whatsoever. In fact, Vancouverites seemed to be genuinely happy to be there, amongst friends or amongst strangers—it didn’t matter—as high-fives, air guitars and group hugs seemed to unite everyone like it was one giant party and AC/DC was the gracious host.
***Thanks to Jessica at Live Nation for the press pass.