|By Charlie Goodrich||Monday, 1 Dec 2008|
The Verizon Center in Washington D.C. was in a constant state of anticipation after the opening act, The Answer, finished their set. I sat in my seat a mere ten rows back from seeing my musical idols take the stage. After taking in my surroundings, I noticed that there is a strong camaraderie between AC/DC fans. At least three generations of fans were present for the concert and everyone acted like one big family. Strangers greeted each other with hugs after exchanging a few words, and people moved about mingling with different groups and sharing stories of music and everything AC/DC. It was a comforting environment that created a unique sensation in the air. Around nine o’clock the arena went black and the sold out crowd rose to its collective feet. A video of a cartoon train began playing on the giant screen mounted above the stage. As the train plowed forward, the camera panned to the furnace where a devil shoveled coal into the roaring locomotive. Two busty women approached the devil and the most outlandish display of sexual innuendo filled the audience with cheers and laughter. Girls stroking the devil’s tail, licking his ears, and grabbing the stop lever (a very phallic stop lever) in a very sexual way illustrate some of what was witnessed. Right as the cartoon train ran out of track, the screen split open and a full size locomotive engine emerged complete with fire shooting smoke stack and 666 embroidered on the front. As the pyrotechnics settled, the band took the stage and broke into their new single, “Rock N Roll Train”. I was a little fearful that Brian Johnson’s voice wouldn’t be up to the task of a live concert, however, my fears were put to rest early on. For a sixty one year old guy who has shredded his vocal cords to the point where he needed throat surgery some years ago, he sounded excellent. After roaring through “Rock N Roll Train”, Brian greeted the audience and told us we were in for an old fashion rock and roll show.
I was blown away by the presentation and stage presence of the band. Brian and Angus Young dominated the show by moving to every inch of the stage and often gesturing to the crowd. They commanded your attention and everything they did to capture it worked. The rest of the band churned like a well-oiled machine. Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar, Cliff Williams on bass, and Phil Rudd on drums hold that band together and form perfectly around Angus’ madman guitar antics and Johnson’s screaming voice.
AC/DC played four songs off their new album, Black Ice, and rocked the Verizon Center with their classic set list. Songs like “Thunderstruck”, Back In Black”, “You Shook Me All Night long”, “Highway to Hell”, “T.N.T.”, “Hells Bells”, and “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” drove the arena into a frenzy of head banging and unrelenting screaming. Of course AC/DC brought their bag of tricks to Washington that night. During “Whole Lot of Rosie” a giant blow up doll (Rosie) inflated above the drum kit as Phil Rudd continued to keep the beat and smoke his cigarette. A two-ton bell, custom made for the band, was lowered from the rafters during “Hells Bells”, and Johnson made a running leap for the rope attached to the bell and began swinging from it. Six cannons surrounded the stage when AC/DC played “For Those About to Rock” and erupted When ordered to by Johnson. Finally, towers of fire shot from the floor and train during “Highway to Hell”. Everything was designed to entertain and create a sense of awe. I think only Iron Maiden have outdone AC/DC when it comes to creating a spectacle on stage (at least of the bands I have seen).
I left the Verizon Center that night a happy person. I witnessed a fantastic rock show and AC/DC seemed ageless. They moved and played like a band half their age. For an hour and a half they dominated that stage and brought the roof down. Above all, I will remember the noise they produced. I never heard a louder band in my life, and never did my ears containing a ringing for so long (a little more than twenty four hours). They definitely live up to their reputation as one of the greatest live bands of all time. If you are a fan and want a great
show, do not hesitate to see them while you can.