AC/DC shoot to thrill in Foxboro

A review of AC/DC at Gillette Stadium on July 28, 2009

, Managing Editor

Has any other band ever epitomized rock n’ roll more than AC/DC? If you answered yes then you should imagine yourself in this scene (a moment one could describe to an alien who landed on Earth and asked what rock n’ roll was): One of the most recognized guitar riffs of all time blasts from the massive speakers, sending fans into a frenzy, as Brian Johnson stalks the stage with strain plastered on his face, reaching deep for the vocals like a man possessed while Phil Rudd bashes away on his drums with a lit cigarette in his mouth… AC/DC are “Back in Black”. Convinced? Thought so.

Over 35 years since their formation AC/DC are still kicking around with the same beloved tricks as well as some new tracks off 2008’s Black Ice. They played in front of a packed Gillette Stadium on Tuesday night, raising hell but providing heaven on earth for their legions of fans.

The show began with a funny animated video catching the attention of the masses, many of which bore blinking red devil horns on their heads that flashed all evening. The video ended with a train crash with a giant train appearing from behind the video screen, accompanied by some pyrotechnics, as the Aussie rockers kicked things off with the first single off their new album, “Rock N’ Roll Train”. The new song was well received as was fellow new track “Big Jack” shortly after, although fans may still have been charged up from “Back in Black” which preceded it.

An AC/DC set list is usually pretty predictable with only a few surprises but it’s their delivery that keeps fans coming tour after tour. It’s still quite an experience watching someone as eccentric and energetic as Angus Young continue to do his thing even at age 54. His playing during “Thunderstruck” had the place electrified (pun intended) and only added to the hysteria with his famous duckwalk during the solo.

“Black Ice” didn’t get as warm a reception as the other new tunes, sending some to the beer lines, but the fun was back for “The Jack” during which the video screens humorously flashed shots of some attractive young coeds during the chorus (being featured during a song about STDs, what an honor!). The cameras also caught comedians David Spade and Chris Rock in the audience before Angus grabbed the attention back with his famous striptease shtick, revealing his AC/DC boxer shorts.

A couple heavy hitters followed in “Hell’s Bells” and “Shoot to Thrill” with Brian Johnson sprinting the entire length of the catwalk to ring the giant bell on the former (although it didn’t actually ring, which would’ve been cooler). An animated video during new track “War Machine” didn’t do much to influence the crowd’s reception, as the crowd’s enthusiasm slightly waned. Thankfully, ‘War’ and the less-than-thrilling “Dog Eat Dog” were just a short bridge to a string of set staples.

“You Shook Me All Night Long” featured the ladies rockin’ on the screens again before fire shot out of the train during the explosive “TNT” (once again, pun intended). Rosie finally made her appearance afterwards, as the giant inflatable doll was set up straddling the train and rocking back and forth to the song by her name (on a side note: at the merchandise booths,& fans could buy their own mini inflatable Rosie doll for years of family fun!). Angus finished off their ode to voluptuous women soloing like a bluesman on speed before soaking in the spotlight in “Let There Be Rock”.

Angus began his epic solo by strolling down the catwalk playing with his guitar on his head as he made his way to midfield where an escalated stage was built for this one performance. Disappearing for a few seconds while still playing, Young reappeared as an elevator raised him into view in the middle of the near capacity stadium. As spotlights whisked around him, Young continued to stir the crowd with his playing, with the moment climaxing with his spasm move as confetti and smoke blasted into the air as Angus rolled around the platform like a fish out of water (Let’s see you do that in Guitar Hero). If that wasn’t enough, the crazy ax-man made his way back to the stage where he culminated his rockin’ journey on a platform raised above the stage.

After taking off in grand fashion the band returned to go even bigger as Angus appeared from under the stage bearing his own devil horns for “Highway To Hell” before perpetual closer “For Those About To Rock” delivered a definitive ending, complete with canons and a fireworks show after the bands departure.

AC/DC didn’t slip up once at their “Black Ice” show, proving they still “shoot to thrill” with their top-notch “powerage” (and now I’ve run out of puns). If you missed this show I’m sure you wish you could have been a “fly on the wall” (I lied!).

Canadian hard rock relics Anvil opened the show for what was their biggest gig ever in the U.S. The band has stepped back into the spotlight after recently becoming the subject for the documentary, “Anvil! The Story of Anvil”, which has been receiving great reviews thanks to their story of perseverance. It took them a long time to get some recognition and with frontman Steve “Lips” Kudlow cracking jokes, keeping the crowd entertained between big rock numbers, they’ll continue to make new fans every gig.

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