Wednesday, November 11, 2009

AC/DC electrifies 12,000 Ford Center fans

By Brandy McDonnell - Entertainment Writer    Comments Comment on this article132
Published: November 5, 2009

Brian Johnson, left, and Angus Young of AC/DC perform during a concert at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, November 4, 2009. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

AC/DC’s “Black Ice Tour” skidded into the Ford Center Wednesday night with the unrelenting force and can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it spectacle of a massive train wreck.


And that’s exactly how the Australian rock gods started the show. The giant screens came to life with a bawdy animated video of a devilish Angus Young, distracted by naughty groupies, driving a runaway engine. The large-scale cartoon culminated in pyrotechnics flaring, a huge locomotive bursting through the back of the stage and the energetic rockers thundering out their latest hit “Rock N Roll Train.”
Though the venerable band surely needed no such gaudy introduction, singer Brian Johnson, guitarist Angus Young, his rhythm guitarist brother Malcolm Young, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd proved from the outset their unadulterated commitment to rocking the Ford Center.
AC/DC specializes in mammoth, primal hard rock, with plenty of suggestive lyrics, intimations of violence and a wicked sense of fun. Often criticized for steadfastly adhering to its formula of huge riffs and pounding rhythms, the band’s stick-with-what-works approach was nearly impossible to argue with during Wednesday’s wildly entertaining show. Even seeing Johnson wearing his usual slouchy hat and sleeveless shirt and Angus Young in his trademark schoolboy outfit was a thrill.
The estimated 12,000 fans — there were a surprising number of empty seats for a tour that has notched numerous sell-outs — were clearly onboard. The crowd, which ranged from hollering graybeards to air-guitar-playing children, leapt to its feet as the houselights went down and stayed standing throughout the band’s two-hour set.
Like Johnson and Angus, the throng was in perpetual motion, constantly waving arms, pumping fists and banging heads. The gravel-voiced Johnson grinned maniacally as the fans took over chorus after chorus, na-nah-ing through “Thunderstruck” and shouting along to “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”
The band drew heavily on its arsenal of colossal hits, invoking screams of delight as it hammered through favorites like “Back in Black,” “TNT” and “You Shook Me All Night Long.”
The rockers maintained their titanic intensity on new songs like “Big Jack,” “War Machine” and “Black Ice,” the title track from their successful 2008 album. Unfortunately, many fans used those less-familiar songs for bathroom breaks or beer runs, but there are no ballads at an AC/DC show, after all.
The band also tapped its 36-year-old catalog for a few deeper cuts such as “Shot Down in Flames” and “Dog Eat Dog.” The bluesy groove of “The Jack” set the mood for Angus to perform his signature strip tease, dispensing with his jacket, tie and shirt and finally flashing AC/DC boxers at the elated audience.
“The boy’s got a devil in his fingers and the blues in his soul,” Johnson quipped as Angus scorched through the song’s fiery solo.
And both have the heart of showmen and the stamina of men half their age. While the rest of the band rocked steadily in the background, Johnson and Angus made frequent trips down the catwalk jutting out from the enormous black stage. The singer strutted and incited the crowd, while the guitar slinger charmed the fans with his duck walk.
Of course, a flair for theatrics never hurt a rock band, either, and the concert was packed with extravagant and engaging set pieces (which undoubtedly played into the $100 ticket price). Johnson took a running leap and swung from the big bell suspended above the stage to open “Hells Bells.” A towering, buxom blowup doll straddled the locomotive and swayed to the beat of “Whole Lotta Rosie.”
AC/DC ended its set with “Let There Be Rock” featuring an outrageous extended solo from Angus, who wailed away like a man possessed as the platform at the end of the catwalk lifted him high above the horde. As he fell to the ground, still playing as he spun in circles, confetti exploded into the air.
As the rockers returned for their encore, the guitarist suddenly emerged from beneath the stage in plumes of red-tinged smoke for “Highway to Hell.” And when they finally closed the concert with “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” blasts from six canons punctuated the anthem.
The sheer spectacle and raw might of AC/DC’s show contrasted with the low-tech opening set by Northern Irish rockers The Answer. Unknown to most of the crowd, the band earned a warm but not sizzling welcome with its solid string of blues-rock songs.

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