There comes a time when every old band—you listening, Rolling Stones?—should look in the mirror and realize it’s time to stop. AC/DC isn’t there yet. Sure, I cringed when 55-year-old Angus Young began shedding his clothes for his nightly striptease. But his pale, bony body notwithstanding, the seizure-ific guitarist and his Aussie mates did nothing to embarrass themselves or devalue their musical legacy.
“I’d love to see these guys in The Joint,” a colleague whispered halfway through the show, but though I’ve dreamt of watching Radiohead in close quarters, I couldn’t agree. Everything about AC/DC—from its pyro blastoff to the capacity crowd’s glowing red devil-horns to the giant bell, cannons and inflatable chick comprising the rockers’ stage setup—screams arena-sized. So what if the beer lines are a little long?
“Thanks for hanging in for us,” singer Brian Johnson announced early on, referencing the originally scheduled October date. That show got postponed due to an unspecified Johnson medical issue, but the 62-year-old was in fine, scratchy-voiced form last Friday. I still find it a little weird hearing him sing Bon Scott’s old tunes (I know, it’s only been 30 years). But I gotta admit, some of those early-era tunes were among the night’s biggest highlights: “T.N.T.,” “Whole Lotta Rosie” and “Shot Down in Flames”—that last one my ninth-grade ski jam. The only thing missing? A video tribute to Scott’s days in the band.
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Four songs off latest album Black Ice fit fairly seamlessly with the catalog hits (“Back in Black,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” “Thunderstruck”), though the back-to-back combo of “War Machine” and clunky-sounding oldie “High Voltage” sucked a bit of the energy from an otherwise rowdy room. Still, how many bands can finish off their main set with a 10-minute guitar solo, with the singer returning to the mic only to say goodnight, and have it feel right? Only one. AC/freaking/DC.