It seemed like a long time since they were here last in the summer of 2008. A lot has happened in the world of ACDC since then.
They put out their first album without Malcolm on guitar after illness prevented him from playing anymore. Malcolm was replaced by his nephew Stevie who also filled in for Malcolm on their 1988 tour.
Drummer Phil Rudd got into a little mischief prompting the Aussie rockers to replace him with Chris Slade. Chris is no stranger to the high energy rock these guys have been putting out since their inception in 1973. He played with them from 1989-1994.
Starting the show off with a three minute video of a moon landing follow by some pyro, the band landed on the stage with a boom. Playing the title track off their Rock or Bust album, the energy in the stadium was intense.
Like a good host, singer Brian Johnson, greeted the fans with, “Good to see you again. How ya doin’?” After which he promised “We’re gonna make rock’n’roll and the party starts right now.”
Well he made good on his promise as the band delivered their high voltage brand of hard rock to the adoring masses for about two hours.
They certainly have a loyal following and are considered to be in the top five of best selling bands in American music history. Devoted fans sang along and pumped their fists to all of their favourite songs from the band’s 17 album catalogue.
The stage was framed with a circular motif with devil horns and the ACDC emblem on the top. Thousands of people wearing the lit up devil horns that were selling for $20 a pop was an interesting sight throughout the packed stadium.
As always there were also a wide variety of concert shirts for sale outside and inside the venue. Folks of all ages were at the show. It seems like the people who grew up with the Bon Scott era ACDC of the ’70’s are now standing next to three generations of new fans.
Singer Brian Johnson’s voice seemed to get better as the night progressed. It took a bit to adjust to his vocals years ago when he would sing the pre-Back in Black Bon Scott tunes, but his vocals work great with the band’s raunchy sound. Before Bon passed away he said he really appreciated the ex-Geordie singer’s pipes, comparing him to his idol Little Richard.
About 50 minutes into the show the bell did toll as a giant bell swayed over the stage for Hells Bells. Four more tunes from the highly successful Back in Black (22 million sold in the US, making it the fifth largest selling album ever) were also played.
Brian and Angus put a few miles on the stage during the night moving from one side to the other. Stevie and bassist Cliff Williams flanked Chris’ drum kit, moving up to the mics for the occasional backup vocals. It was quite apparent that these guys love what they’re doing.
Angus sported his schoolboy outfit strutting his stuff in fine form and proved to the fans that he’s not ready to retire any time soon. His riffs are true down and dirty rock’n’roll in the raw form. Having written many memorable riffs to such songs as Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, Thunderstruck and Back in Black, it only took a few opening notes of a song to move the crowd to a frenzy.
Angus pulled out a few of his trademark SG guitar’s throughout the night and did an interesting solo as he strangled the frets of his guitar with his tie in the middle of Sin City. And he did his typical spinning on the ground as he thrashed his guitar at one point. One thing the naughty school boy didn’t do for the first time in all the years I’ve seen them was ‘moon’ the audience.
But the highlight in his performance was when the band did an 11-minute version of Let There Be Rock and he provided a couple of amazing solos. He went down to the end of the catwalk which extended about 30 rows into the centre of the audience after which the stage lifted him up as if he was an offering to the gods of rock past.
Thirteen of the 20 songs played were the same as the Black Ice tour, but no one seemed to mind. It just wouldn’t be an ACDC show without old standbys like TNT with everyone providing the “OY OY” counterpoint to Brian’s TNT wail.
And of course Rosie was there in the form of a gargantuan rubber doll staring provocatively into the audience during Whole Lotta Rosie. Just love how she slithered away behind the stage by the end of the song.
Five video screens on the stage provided some interesting visuals as well as making the band seem, well, truly larger than life. Angus never looked better than when flames were superimposed over him during Highway To Hell. Very effective.
They ended their set with twelve cannons firing loudly during For Those About To Rock We Salute You. After they left the stage, fireworks were set off behind the stage.
Openers Vintage Trouble got the fans who bothered to check them out a little pumped during their 40-minute set. The four piece band was pretty straight ahead rock with a bit of soul thrown in for good measure.
And though the rain poured down pretty heavy as they started their set it sure didn’t dampen their spirits as the singer encouraged the audience to think of every drop of rain as a drop of sunshine.
The James Brown influenced singer was quite energetic as he climbed off the stage and wandered through the audience. He even managed to get the audience to do ‘the wave’ a few times during their set before doing a call and response of AC … DC … AC … DC.
Thankfully the rain stopped before ACDC came on. But although the rain stopped the fans were still left Thunderstruck.
All photos by Doug Kretchmer
Rock or Bust
Shoot to Thrill
Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be*
Back in Black*
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap*
Rock ‘n’ Roll Train*
Baptism by Fire
You Shook Me All Night Long*
Shot Down in Flames*
Have a Drink on Me
Whole Lotta Rosie*
Let There Be Rock*
(With Angus Young guitar solo)
Highway to Hell*
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)*
* songs that were played on 2009 Black Ice tour also