An official announcement has finally been made. Axl Rose will be singing for AC/DC on their remaining Rock Or Bust tour dates. These include a handful of US shows and a number of European shows. The rumors were out there for a while, and they were all but officially confirmed by a Young family member, so this really comes as no surprise. It’s just nice to have actual confirmation because now different speculations can begin.
Axl Rose singing for AC/DC is certainly an interesting proposition with so many dramatic themes that can play out over the course of the tour. Axl is known for being notoriously late to arrive on stage. He also has a reputation for being a demanding “prima donna” who has to have everything go just his way. He’s been known to flat out cancel shows at the last minute with no explanation at all. In general, he’s a big risk for any band to take on.
At the other end of this equation is AC/DC. Brian Johnson is now officially out of the band due to his hearing loss. He has made a statement that he needs time to heal and wants to carry on, at least in a studio capacity. He has made no mention of whether that means recording a new album with AC/DC, but rumors and speculation say that he is out of the band for good. In any event, AC/DC is moving on without Brian Johnson. And that’s a shame. It’s hard to imagine AC/DC without him at the helm.
And yet, Axl Rose singing for AC/DC opens a world of possibilities. At the Coachella festival Guns N Roses brought Angus Young onstage and performed two AC/DC classics. The first was “Whole Lotta Rosie,” and the second was “Riff Raff.” The latter is a song that has only been performed less than a handful of times since 1979. Meaning Brian Johnson has only sung it on the rarest of occasions.
It’s no secret that Axl Rose’s voice is more attuned to the Bon Scott style of vocals, and hearing him sing “Riff Raff” should leave die hard AC/DC fans salivating. This could mean a major change in the upcoming setlists for AC/DC. “Riff Raff” could be just the beginning. Having Axl on lead vocals could mean that a plethora of Bon Scott era songs get dusted off and performed for the first time in years! That thought alone has me thinking that I might need to take in one of the Axl shows.
Of course they are still going to play the Brian Johnson signatures. “Shook Me All Night Long,” “Hell’s Bells,” “For Those About To Rock” will all be performed in their usual rotation spot. And I am certain that the new songs will also be performed. But after that, well, it’s a whole new opportunity. There’s a reason that Angus and Guns N Roses performed “Riff Raff.” It was intended to make a statement. Message received.
If Axl Rose fronting AC/DC opens the door for multiple Bon Scott era lost classics to be performed live for the first time in nearly 35 years, I am all for it! Yes, I understand that it is not the same without Brian Johnson. Yes, I would love to see him fronting the band for years to come. However, I would also like to see some deep rare cuts performed and “Riff Raff” is a great start. “High Voltage,” “Rock And Roll Damnation,” and “Problem Child” would also be welcomed additions. Not to mention it would be amazing to see Axl’s take on “Let There Be Rock.” I have a feeling that he could really belt out that tune.
When I first heard the rumor that this could happen, my initial reaction was “Meh.” I was also wondering how AC/DC would react the first time Axl showed up late (or not at all). But seeing on time starts for Guns N Roses in Las Vegas and at Coachella, as well as hearing “Whole Lotta Rosie” live has me rethinking my reaction. I’ve gone from “Meh,” to “Hmmm….this could be really interesting.” And that could be the start of a journey that finds me at Madison Square Garden witnessing AC/DC history.
There is still a lot of time between here and there. But the first steps taken have been good ones. As of now, Axl Rose joining AC/DC appears to mean only positive things for the future of the Rock Or Bust tour. Let’s hope that it remains that way for the foreseeable future.