Sooners' senior sat in fourth row for Nov. 4 show in Oklahoma City.
Nov. 9, 2009
I recently had the privilege of witnessing an event that has been on my bucket list for a while now -- an AC/DC Rock Show. I call it a "Rock Show" and not a concert because that's what it is -- a show all about rock music.
It's no secret that AC/DC is my favorite band so, understandably, I have been telling everyone I know about the show since I found out about it in August, and after all that anticipation and excitement leading up to the show, I wasn't disappointed.
A relatively unknown band from Northern Ireland called The Answer opened the event with a bang. I had personally never heard of them but I was pleasantly surprised with their blues/southern rock/modern hard rock hybrid sound. The band had a few songs that were obviously anti-establishment compositions, but they had some softer bluesy pieces that were pretty good too. They brought a lot of energy to the stage which made them fun to watch and they impressed me enough to persuade me to buy their LP after the show.
Enough about them.
In keeping with the theme of the Black Ice Tour, the show opened with a video of Angus Young driving a "Rock N' Roll Train" on the giant screen behind the stage which then split to reveal an almost life-size replica of a locomotive engine. This is a traditional ingredient of an AC/DC show -- a prop that represents the subject of the current album they are promoting. Not surprisingly, they dove right into a volatile rendition of "Runaway Train" to kick things off.
The thing about AC/DC that sets them apart from most other bands is that they sound better live than they do on an album. There is so much more that they bring to the stage that isn't possible to experience on a recording, most notably the level of energy at which they play. And they are LOUD. I didn't count but they probably had around 50 Marshall amps forming a wall at the back of the stage. All five members of the band are at least in their mid-50's, but they might have well been 18. Angus was all over the stage performing his version of Chuck Berry's duck-walk and thrusting his pick hand into the air while continuing to shred the fretboard using only the force of his fingers smashing into the strings. As an amateur guitarist, I can tell you that this is no easy task.
The show included almost all of AC/DC's major hits: "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Back in Black" (my favorite song of all time), "Thunderstruck" and an encore presentation of "Highway to Hell" in which Angus rose from beneath the stage and "For Those About to Rock" with the famous cannons firing from atop the stage. I was hoping to hear "Money Talks" and "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution," but even without them the show was still great.
One thing that was really cool about this show was that AC/DC included all of their famous props from previous tours. During "T.N.T.," the train centerpiece erupted in jets of fire during the song's chorus. Brian Johnson sprinted across stage and leapt onto the legendary "Hell's Bell" to start off the song (he's 62, by the way). And the piece de resistance had to be the floor-to-ceiling inflatable doll depicting the main character of the song "Whole Lotta Rosie." Angus even performed his signature striptease down to his AC/DC boxers.
But the climax of the show was the 54-year-old Angus rising above the crowd on a see-through platform for a whirling dervish of guitar playing and what is best described as break-dancing without missing a note of his solo. This is a part of the show that has been included since the band formed, but it wasn't always performed on a platform above the crowd's head.
All things considered, I can't envision any show that I will experience in my lifetime surpassing this one, unless I have the opportunity to see these guys again. They have something intangible that a lot of other bands don't have, and, after watching them in person, I think I have figured out what it is. They love what they are doing. They're not in it for the money or the groupies or the notoriety. They just love to play music.
My seat was four rows from the stage, so I could see how much fun they were having up there. I can't describe it in writing. It's just one of those things you have to see for yourself. So if you get an opportunity to see AC/DC before they retire, TAKE IT. You won't regret it. They truly are the Greatest Rock Show on Earth.