All Aboard the “Rock’n’Roll Train”: My Premier Live Encounter with the Boys from Down Under
ACDC - Black Ice Tour
As the derivation of their name connotes, there is something quite electrifying about ACDC.
Even as a band aged over 30 years that has undergone numerous lineup changes including the loss of their originally famed lead vocalist Bon Scott, after being privileged enough to score floor seats to their latest Black Ice tour (which some suggest may very well be their last), I can say with absolute certainty that their capacity to entertain has not withered with age.
Between Angus’ non-stop stage theatrics (which included a customary jump to conclude each track’s final strum), Johnson’s powerhouse command of the stage (in which he demonstrated his jocular nature and enjoyment of playing it up to the crowd by, for example, changing the notorious lyrics in “You Shook Me All Night Long” to “Canadian thighs”), coupled with the use of precisely placed pyrotechnic effects and, of course, the re-emergence of “Rosie”’s inflatable bigger- than-life likeness, ACDC’s live show had everything a rock’n’roll fan could ask for. The fervent energy of the crowd alone created such an intimate hometown rock bar atmosphere that one easily forget that they were amidst a sea of over 72,000 fans.
After rocking through classics like, “Back in Black”, “Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)” and “TNT” interspersed with the showcasing of soon-to-be fan favourites from their latest, the show came to its climatic finale when Angus broke into a near 10 minute guitar solo of epic proportions, midway through their ‘77 smash hit, “Let There Be Rock”. Despite writhing around on stage as though as he were experiencing an intense seizure, engaging in his signature duck walk homage to his idol Chuck Berry, and taunting the audience with his infamous devil horns salute, Angus, unbelievably didn’t miss a single beat. In fact, one bystander described his ability, to me, as being “super-human”, and I don’t think that this attribution is that far off from the truth..
Now it’s not as though I’ve ever doubted the talents of Mr. Young. By all means, I believe it’s fairly apparent to the average music connoisseur that the man’s one hell of a player, but after witnessing the phenomenon that is Angus Young, in person, it is clear that I didn’t take ACDC’s assertion that they consider themselves most noteworthy for their live act (which they’ve repeatedly expressed during interviews), as seriously as I should have.
Though all of the aforementioned details give rank to this performance, undisputedly, as the best that I’ve ever been lucky enough to witness, the single most compelling feature of ACDC’s show was the fact that, as an audience member, you could feel the sheer enjoyment of the players oozing out with every note - you knew that the sole reason as to why they were back out on the road is because they 100% genuinely enjoy doing it. After all, considering the magnitude of success that they’ve managed to acquire for themselves over their impressive long-standing career, including the sale of over 200 million albums worldwide and a placement on Rolling Stone’s, 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list, I think it goes without saying that they probably don’t need the money.
The only legitimate criticism that I feel I can fairly propose was that their setlist lacked any real sense of flow and dynamic. But, in all fairness, if I were the artist responsible for such a wealth of anthemic compositions, I likely wouldn’t know where to begin or end either. Moreover on that point, considering that their music rarely deviates from its steady upbeat pace, it was mind-blowing to see a bunch of rockers, in their senior years, maintain such intense energy throughout. I’ve known 20 year olds whose stamina doesn’t even come close.
Though my ears will likely not stop ringing for days, and the extraordinary sound of Angus’ one handed pull-off arpeggios is forever tattooed to my memory, I think I can safely say that there is a very low likelihood that I will ever hold witness to another concert at which a middle-aged musician (whose never really been much of a looker) will be able to perform a long-winded strip tease, and be received with such unbridled enthusiasm and fanatic ovation.
And that my friends is what makes ACDC a true (as they prefer) “rhythm and blues” sensation. To the boys in ACDC who unequivocally know how to rock, I salute you. The “Rock’n’Roll Train” has left the station, and I’m definitely on board.