Saturday, November 21, 2009

AC/DC - July 31, 2009

Every Saturday The Rock and Roll Guru gives a comprehensive review of a live concert.

Earlier this year, I called up some of my buddies and made plans to see AC/DC at Giants Stadium once I found a special offer for tickets. Metal Eddie topped my list, because he had never seen them live before. My buddy Bobby was always interested in seeing a concert, especially after the blast we had seeing Motley Crue earlier in the year, and my pal Rick was also eager to see AC/DC live. With commitments made from the three of them, I bought our tickets and smiled at the fact that I would be seeing AC/DC for the first time in 9 years.

On the day before the show, Bobby got into a serious accident at work and was laid up in the hospital. Unable to attend, I called up my friend Jeff, the man who had taken me to my very first concert and asked him if he wanted a free ticket to AC/DC. He didn’t even pause before saying “Hell, yes!”

The night of the show, our spirits were high. For once, I wouldn’t have to be the driver, as Rick agreed to handle transportation, allowing me the pleasure of drinking as much as I wanted during our tailgating festivities. Unfortunately, the weather was not very cooperative. A massive rain storm pelted New Jersey just as we were heading to Giants Stadium for our tailgating fun. Not one to let the weather intercept my good times, I said, “Screw it.”

When we parked the car, the rain came down harder, mocking us. Metal Eddie had brought a poncho with him, as had Jeff. Rick and I were the idiots standing in the downpour getting soaked to the bone. I didn’t care. I was off from work, I had beer and subs, and I was going to see one of the greatest live acts on the planet. Rain be damned! Rick did decide that enough was enough after twenty minutes of windswept water. He broke down and bought us each a poncho from a parking lot seller. Normally, those guys are selling scalped T-shirts, but on that day, the poncho was in higher demand.

The ponchos didn’t help much, as we were already too wet to be saved. They did prevent us from getting any damper, however. Just as we got ready to go inside and sit through the opening acts (I was curious to see how they sounded) the rain stopped and I had to laugh. Just our luck.

The Answer were the first openers, and I had heard a lot of good things about them. Hard Rock Hideout and other trusted metal websites spoke of them being a great up and coming hard rock act with a killer debut disc. I didn’t see that at all. Perhaps it was the weather, the fact that opening acts never have good sound, not knowing any of their songs, or just wanting to see AC/DC, but I was far from impressed with the Answer. They were hard to hear, and the singer’s voice couldn’t be heard at all over the guitars and drums. I gave the polite applause at the end of their set, but I hoped hard that Anvil was going to give a better performance.

They didn’t. Anvil came out, and with all the hype that has surrounded them as of late, I was hopeful for a great performance. What I got was Spinal Tap in concert. I didn’t think they were any good. All of their songs were weak, and their live performance helped to show me why I had never heard of them in the 80s to begin with. Perhaps their documentary is better than they are. I don’t know, because I haven’t seen that yet.

After two dismal opening acts, it was time for one of the greatest hard rock acts to ever hit the stage. The lights went down and on the main screen in the center of the stage, a video was shown, serving as an introduction to the night.

After the train “wrecked” onto the stage, the opening notes of Rock and Roll Train rang out, and this concert was underway. We all leaped out of our seats and cheered as loud as we could. AC/DC were in the meadowlands on a Friday night in the summer! What could be better than that? At that moment… nothing.

While I was curious to hear what the new songs sounded like, I was also very interested in which classic tracks the band was going to pull out. Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be and Back In Black made early appearances, setting the stage for the songs to come.

This was the first time that I was witnessing AC/DC in a stadium (as opposed to an arena) and I have to admit, their performance was definitely built for the stadium. Usually, my preference is to see a show in an arena or theater, as the setting is much more intimate, but with a band like AC/DC, they can give their full effect in a stadium setting.

Long catwalks littered the stage and led all the way though the audience. We knew that this would come into play later in the night, when Angus broke out for his long, extended, jam on the show closer. AC/DC was built for stadiums. Their high volume could ring out into the night, their boundless energy could go further in the large grandiose setting of a stadium, and they could feed off the energy of 50,000 (compared to 20,000).

While all in their 50s and 60s, these guys still rock like it’s the 1970s. Angus showed no signs of age other than a receding hairline. He came out in his trademark schoolboy outfit and tore up Giants Stadium from the opening note. Strutting, duckwalking, and doing the Angus shuffle, he came with boundless energy that is unmatched.

Brian Johnson sounded great. His vocals haven’t changed much over the years, and he can still entertain with the best of them. While he may not run around the stage as when he first joined the band, he still has a slow strut about him, complete with a shoulder shake and of course his trademark cap.

The new songs sounded great live, although I was disappointed at some of their choices. War Machine was never a great song to me, and I would have much rather heard Money Made. Anything Goes is another track that I felt was a weaker selection from the new album. Skies on Fire or Smash and Grab would have been much better choices.

The biggest surprise of the evening came in the form of Dog Eat Dog. An incredible Bon Scott era song, I never would have guessed that AC/DC had dusted that classic off for this tour. As a longtime fan, I was extremely happy when they performed that great number.

Angus ruled the night. During the entire concert he was jumping, shaking, strutting, and wailing away on that guitar. He mesmerized the audience and turned in a great performance. Then, during Let There Be Rock he really cut loose. Giving his patented Angus solo, he went ballistic on the guitar, running around the stadium, wailing away on his wireless guitar, all while listening to 50,000 screaming fans. He, once again, ruled the night.

AC/DC came, they played, and they conquered, as they always do. Metal Eddie was extremely happy to cross this band off his list. He had finally seen them live and he loved every second of it. Rick and Jeff were also pleased with the show. AC/DC never lets you down and Angus Young is always worth the price of admission.

Rock and Roll Train
Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be
Back In Black
Big Jack
Shot Down In Flames
Dirty Deeds
Black Ice
The Jack
Hells Bells
Shoot To Thrill
War Machine
Dog Eat Dog
Anything Goes
You Shook Me All Night Long
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Highway To Hell
For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

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