[Review] - AC/DC: Rock Or Bust Tour

Photo by the author.
AC/DC is one of the definitive rock and roll bands. Not one of the most influential or progressive, or experimental. They occupy that niche of rock bands with ZZ Top, in that all their songs exist in the same narrow corridor of comparative similarity. Hell, most of their songs start the exact same way. But, when you think of the broader concept of rock and roll bands, AC/DC is pretty much a holotype. They are loud. They're songs are filled with sex and violence. They are loud. They are theatrical, and have exuberant personalities. They are loud. And they're music takes on a life of it's own. This isn't music that moves people, that touches them, or speaks to them. This is music that takes hold, and shakes them until they cannot help but be vibrating to it. You have to try very hard not to enjoy an AC/DC song; they are aggressively fun.

They are also loud. I feel that I do need to mention this. They might be called the Thunder from Down Under, but that does them little justice. AC/DC concerts rightfully need to come with warning labels and health and safety recommendations. I was ill for half a day afterwards, and only got my hearing full back after a long weekend. They are an unrelenting, unrepentant wall of sound from minute one to the last. It's not a knock, but it is a caution. You expect concerts to have some auditory heft, but this was... well, that old Spinal Tap joke about turning the volume to eleven doesn't seem so funny when you've got literally ear splitting decibels of noise shaking you all night long.

Hit the jump for the brief review.

Rock or Bust is, without reservation or apology, a best of tour. It might be AC/DC's last, who knows. They've been doing this for 43 years now. The front stage centre act is a pensioner prancing about in what appears to be a velour school boy's uniform (which Angus systematically strips out of by the end of the first twenty minutes to avoid dying of heat stroke, he sweats so much). But there is no hocking a new record. No album recreation. No pretense whatsoever. They come out on stage, and play exactly the twenty songs you'd expect. And really, the twenty songs you want them to play, because you're seeing AC/DC live, and if Brian Johnson used the evening to showcase his experimental Bobby Darin covers, you'd walk away feeling rather miffed.

None of this is a knock against the show. Quite the opposite. It was a spectacle I'm not soon to forget The stage design was fun, the crowd was active, the performers aware of their age and capabilities, but not limited or humbled by them. And it was loud (had I mentioned that already?). It was, in short, absolutely everything I was hoping the concert was, as it was my first, and very likely my last, chance of seeing them. And I walked away having gotten everything I wanted. As did an enormous and packed to the rafters crowd. In fact, I lucked out to see them perform in an open air arena, and cannot for the life of me imagine how it must be to see them in an enclosed space. The acoustics alone must cause eye balls to pop like water balloons.

But it wasn't the sheer enormity of it all. Nor was it the expectations and payoff of songs that got the crowd riled up. It was the energy of the band. And for a bunch of pensioners, they certainly don't act their age. Johnson tugged on his dick all night, wandering back and forth, his body at times seeming sluggish, but his voice never wavering. He wasn't bouncing off the set, but his vocal cords haven't aged a day since he joined the band, at least that's how it sounded to us. And Angus never relented for a moment. He spent the whole show giving 100%. He was back and forth across the stage, doing the duck walk and the chicken spin, tweaking and strumming and chopping at his guitar like he was back in high school. He closed the show with a 10-15 minute (I didn't keep track) solo that men half his age would have been exhausted watching.

But the most impressive thing about the night was something I picked up on about three songs in: as they started up each new tune, the chords drifting through the recognition centres of my brain as it dawned on me which classic track we were about to hear next, when - every time - I thought to myself, "I would have thought this to be an encore song." And that's when I realized, it didn't matter what song they were playing, or when in the show they played it, every song was played like it was the encore song. Each one had a run up, to get the crowd on board, each one was played to it's maximum potential, and each one ended with an exuberant flourish. It was like every single song was its own mini concert, beginning, holding, and ending the night. They played every one like it was their most important, most adored, and their last. And the only way you knew the end was actually coming was that they started bringing out the props. And they kept getting bigger, and louder, until the sky literally exploded as a punctuation mark on the event.

But damn, was it loud. And no complimentary ear buds either, the bastards. Even John Fogerty gave out ear buds.

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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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