Hell ain’t a bad place to be. Neither was Gillette Stadium for the kickoff of the North American leg of AC/DC‘s “Rock Or Bust” world tour. Deflategate was put on hold Saturday night (Aug. 22) when the beloved band came to the house of the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and exerted their own supremacy.
Age, and the illness and legal absences of founding guitarist Malcolm Young and drummer Phil Rudd, respectively, begged the question if this might be AC/DC’s last big North American tour. Only 14 dates total put just six U.S. shows at a premium for American fans, and Gillette Stadium was packed accordingly.
Still, the 67,000 seat bowl would have been filled anyway. Forty-some years since their nightclub debut in Australia, AC/DC are still a sonic wrecking ball with more energy than most bands a fraction of their age. Opening night in Massachusetts, singer Brian Johnson strutted and grinned at a brisk pace, crisscrossing the stage around guitarist Angus Young‘s hyperactive duckwalking nonstop for a full two hours.
Young’s fingers flurried, Johnson bellowed and shrieked, and Cliff Williams (bass), Chris Slade (drums) and Stevie Young (guitar) furiously sweated out the backbone to twenty songs of raucous rock ‘n’ roll exaltation.
Band personnel aside, nothing was changed too much from the last time AC/DC played the same stadium, in 2009: enormous staging, lighting bright enough to signal satellites, and trademark production that included the infamous “Hells Bell,” cannon fire and the namesake inflatable lusty temptress during “Whole Lotta Rosie.”
Production and volume alone didn’t make the band powerful so much as the songs themselves. Smartly chosen chords and unforgettable choruses, crafted to deliver crushing forcefulness, could be felt through the gigantic PA. The thumping heartbeat of “Back in Black,” and the thunderous pulse of “Thunderstruck,” pounded bodies and eardrums, keeping the stadium on its feet.
It was a rousing setlist that included both expected anthems and some wonderful obscure songs, like “Have a Drink on Me” (introduced as a Boston drinking song) and “Shot Down in Flames.” Plus, three new songs from Rock or Bust — “Rock or Bust,” “Play Ball” and “Baptism by Fire” — slotted in well with “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”
AC/DC have transcended claims that their songs are redundant. The sight and sound of a filled Gillette Stadium enthusiastically singing along was proof how well their music still resonates with people of all ages. It’s not boring with repetitive familiarity; it’s timeless. And if Saturday night in Foxborough was an indication, regardless of the age on their faces, AC/DC’s time is far from up.
Watch AC/DC Performing “Back in Black”
Watch AC/DC Performing “Thunderstruck”
Watch AC/DC Performing “Shoot to Thrill”
Watch AC/DC Performing “Baptism By Fire”
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