Metal Monday 2-7-2022

Archived Concert Review

AC/DC

Times Union Center

Albany NY

August 2, 2009

My dad was 63 years old in 2009 and claimed AC/DC to be his favorite band in the world.  This is a statement I didn’t deny, given how his attention would be swayed whenever one of the band’s songs was on the radio.  As he had never been to a concert of such magnitude, when I heard that AC/DC was going to be bringing its Black Ice tour to my region, I got the idea to surprise him with tickets.

Dad had no idea where we were going when I picked him up that afternoon.  Waiting until we were parked in a garage two blocks from the venue to show him the tickets, his eyes lit up when he realized the end result of the surprise.  He was downright giddy as we waited for the doors to open, openly chatting up folks who were around his age about the band.

Our seats were on the right-hand side as we faced the stage, right behind the barrier leading to the floor, and in the first row.  This placed us approximately 75 feet from the stage, with a ramp extending right in front of us.  Australia’s The Answer opened the show with a set of unknown, but solid, rock and roll, complete with modest production.  Dad’s reaction to the meager stage and light show was that of a wide-eyed kid going to his first rock show.  I giggled to myself, knowing he would be blown away once the headliners took the stage.

AC/DC opened its show with a 2-minute video featuring an animated train rollicking down the tracks, getting more and more out of control, before culminating with a high-speed crash, transitioning into the band taking the stage amidst a large train as the main stage prop, real time flames set off to complete the trick.  Not coincidentally, the band launched into the lead single off its latest Black Ice album, Rock and Roll Train.  It was at that moment, my dad realized he was seeing a real rock and roll show.

The train as its lone prop (until the cannons at the end), AC/DC entertained as it had for more than 30 years.  Lead guitarist Angus Young, in his trademark schoolboy outfit, raced, bopped, and gyrated over every inch of the stage, clearly the evening’s main attraction.  Lead vocalist, Brian Johnson, a more than competent and willing second banana was the next most mobile member of the quintet, trading spaces with Angus on the main stage, as well as the ramp, sounding in fine form with his scratchy and deep throated vocals.

The band mixed a setlist of new songs from Black Ice with classic tunes throughout the evening.  Big Jack, the title cut, War Machine, and Anything Goes made up the former, while Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, Back in Black, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Thunderstruck, Shoot to Thrill, You Shook Me All Night Lone, TNT, and Whole Lotta Rosie highlightedthe latter.  Angus’ brother, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, and bassist Cliff Williams remained glued to their posts, each taking up a spot just to the left or right of the drum riser, only moving simultaneously to their respective microphones to sign back-up vocals.  Meanwhile, drummer Phil Rudd, who could be called a human metronome, manned the drum kit, at times further solidifying his coolness by displaying a lit cigarette in his mouth while playing.

The group had some surprises left in store.  The black AC/DC bell that lowered to the point that Johnson could hang from it before crooning Hells Bells especially impressed my dad.  Main set closer Let There Be Rock was turned into a marathon affair, with Angus going berserk while assaulting his guitar.  Encore number Highway to Hell featured an impressive series of flames and fireworks, while the final song of the night, For Those About to Rock (We Salute You), gave the audience its trademark firing of the cannons, a finale that left my dad with his mouth wide open.

This was not my first AC/DC show, and I knew well beforehand how special their performances usually were.  However, for a first-time concert goer, going to see the group is mostly a blessing, given how amazing they are live, but could be considered a curse, as there is no way another band could live up to what we saw in Albany that night.  Just ask my dad.  He’s been to one other concert since:  AC/DC in 2015.

AC/DC Setlist:

Rock and Roll Train

Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be

Back in Black

Big Jack

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Shot Down in Flames

Thunderstruck

Black Ice

The Jack

Hells Bells

Shoot to Thrill

War Machine

Dog Eat Dog

Anything Goes

You Shook Me All Night Long

TNT

Whole Lotta Rosie

Let There Be Rock

Encore:

Highway to Hell

For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

Metal Monday 10-4-2021

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week, we will study the Thunder from Down Under, AC/DC.  Here is an iconic rock band that has been around for close to 50 years, which is unfathomable to me.   The band has undergone several lineup changes due to dysfunction and tragedy, yet its core members throughout most of its history has been the Young brothers, Angus and Malcolm (died 2017). 

Obviously, Angus Young is the most visual member of the band with his schoolboy outfit and raucous guitar solos, while the lead singer tandem of Bon Scott (until his death in 1980) and Brian Johnson give a strong voice to the songs.  However, it is some of the more subtle things about AC/DC that draw me to the band, including the four on the floor rock solid drumming of Phil Rudd, as well as the eighth note throbbing bass lines of Cliff Williams.  The late Malcolm Young was the main songwriter, along with his brother, and authored some of the most badass rock guitar riffs of all time.

#16: 

Fly on the Wall-1985

Not much to write here.

Best Song:  Fly on the Wall

Best Deep Cut:  Fly on the Wall

#15: 

Blow Up Your Video-1988

A couple of strong tracks to lead off the record, but things fizzle out quickly after that.

Best Song:  Heatseeker

Best Deep Cut:  Go Zone

#14: 

Flick of the Switch-1983

Again, not too much going for this record, either, although I do enjoy the title cut.

Best Song:  Flick of the Switch

Best Deep Cut:  Guns for Hire

#13: 

Rock or Bust-2014

This album and subsequent tour were plagued by personnel issues, namely, Malcolm Young’s departure due to illness.  Meanwhile, Phil Rudd’s legal trouble did not allow him to tour, while Brian Johnson’s hearing issues forced him off the road mid-tour, to be replaced by Axl Rose.

Best Song:  Rock or Bust

Best Deep Cut:  Sweet Candy

#12: 

Stiff Upper Lip-2000

This album had some decent moments, however, once again, there is a fair amount of filler.  I do enjoy the title cut, as AC/DC continues a trend of leading off with their best song.

Best Song:  Stiff Upper Lip

Best Deep Cut:  Meltdown

#11: 

Ballbreaker-1995

The return of Phil Rudd after a long absence.  As a drummer myself, I admire his robotic-like style, and his ability to produce such a fat sound.  The man has no frills but go ahead try to stay on point as consistently as he does.  As for the album, it’s okay.

Best Song:  Hard as a Rock

Best Deep Cut:  Whiskey on the Rocks

#10: 

For Those About to Rock-1981

This record almost had no chance, coming on the heels of the wildly successful Back in Black.  That said, it’s a pretty strong output, with some solid deep cuts (obviously the lead-off title track carries the whole thing).

Best Song:  For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

Best Deep Cut:  Put the Finger on You

#9: 

Black Ice-2008

The final album for Malcolm Young.  Black Ice has some great songs, including (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) the lead-off Rock and Roll TrainBig Jack, Anything Goes, and War Machine highlight a strong first half, however, the record is way too long at 15 songs.  If it were cut down to the normal 10-11, we would be talking about putting this one higher up on the list.

Best Song:  Rock and Roll Train

Best Deep Cut:  War Machine

#8: 

Power Up-2020

When I heard AC/DC was releasing a new album, I didn’t have high expectations.  At this point in their illustrious career, I was expecting something along the lines of Rock or Bust.  Boy, was I surprised when I started listening to this one.  Give the band credit.  They put out a very good album.

Best Song:  Through the Mists of Time

Best Deep Cut:  Realize

#7: 

The Razor’s Edge-1991

A comeback album of sorts following a string of subpar offerings, The Razor’s Edge put the band back in the limelight.  Featuring the iconic Thunderstruck, as well as singles, Moneytalks and Are You Ready, the record was promoted with a very successful world tour.  AC/DC was back! 

Best Song:  Thunderstruck

Best Deep Cut:  The Razor’s Edge

#6: 

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap-1976

The classic title cut starts this one off with a bang and it doesn’t really let up.  A dirty sounding album with other standout tracks, including, Rocker, Problem Child, and Squealer.

Best Song:  Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Best Deep Cut:  Squealer

#5: 

High Voltage-1975

The first internationally released AC/DC album (there were two releases in Australia only), High Voltage contains many of the same songs as the pair of domestic releases..  The album features It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll), Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer, Live Wire, TNT, and the title track as its standouts.  A very underrated record and a sign of things to come for this new band.

Best Song:  Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer

Best Deep Cut:  Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer

#4: 

Back in Black-1980

A lot of folks may wonder if I am feeling okay for ranking this one so low.  Trust me, I think it’s a great album!  It’s just that there are three beasts ahead of it! 

An introduction to new vocalist Brian Johnson following the untimely death of Bon Scott, Back in Black has become an all-time iconic record, with several songs that will be played on classic rock radio forever.  Starting with, Hells Bells, and continuing with, Shoot to Thrill, the album also contains the classic title cut and the uber-successful, You Shook Me All Nite Long.

If I were to have a gripe with this album, however, it would be that classic rock radio has played the hits to death, almost to the point that I cringe when I hear them, even though they are fantastic songs.  Furthermore, some of the other songs don’t do much for me.  While I enjoy, Have a Drink on Me, and, What Do You Do For Money Honey, I cannot seem to get into, Given the Dog a Bone, Shake a Leg, and Let Me Put My Love Into You.  In addition, I still have no idea how Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution is still a favored track of so many.

Best Song:  Hells Bells

Best Deep Cut:  Have a Drink on Me

#3: 

Let There Be Rock-1977

A short little ditty at eight songs, Let There Be Rock never strays too far from my AC/DC playlist.  From the groove of the title track to the drive of Dog Eat Dog, Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, and Whole Lotta Rosie, this one is a masterpiece, and also features, probably my favorite AC/DC song, Bad Boy Boogie.  Also, don’t fall asleep on Overdose.

Best Song:  Bad Boy Boogie

Best Deep Cut:  Overdose

#2: 

Powerage-1978

Perhaps the reason I love this record is because there are no huge radio singles in the bunch.  Nope, there is just a collection of great rock and roll songs.  Strong songs?  Where do I start?  Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation, Down Payment Blues, Riff Raff, Sin City, What’s Next to the Moon, Gone Shootin’, and Up to My Neck in You.  I almost feel bad for the other unnamed tracks because they are decent themselves.

Best Song:  Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation

Best Deep Cut:  Gone Shootin’

#1: 

Highway to Hell-1979

Why is this ranked number one?  Well, let’s find out.  Starting with the gigantic title cut and going straight into, Girls Got Rhythm is a strong one/two punch.  But it doesn’t stop there.  This album also features, Walk All Over You, Touch Too Much, Shot Down in Flames, Get it Hot, If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It), and the grooving Love Hungry Man.  Whew!

Best Song:  Shot Down in Flames

Best Deep Cut:  Touch Too Much

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