Archived Concert Review
Times Union Center
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.
Rock and Roll Train
Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Shot Down in Flames
Shoot to Thrill
Dog Eat Dog
You Shook Me All Night Long
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Highway to Hell
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)