Tag Archives: Chris Slade

AC/DC at The Olympic Stadium, London 4/6/16

After successfully purchasing two tickets for this AC/DC gig the minute they went on sale last December I was gutted to later learn that a number of dates were being pulled because of Brian Johnson’s hearing problems, but also mystified to read in the announcement that they hoped to resume the tour “likely with a guest vocalist.” Just how was that going to work out?

A huge amount of controversy ensued about the way Brian Johnson had been treated, about whether the band was right to carry on and if (in the light of also losing founder, Malcolm Young, and drummer, Phil Rudd) the dignified thing was to call it a day once and for all and put the AC/DC name to rest. The subsequent rumours and then confirmation that it was to be Axl Rose replacing Johnson for the remainder of this tour merely stoked the controversy even further.

And now, as I’m standing in the Olympic Stadium watching the Axl Rose-fronted AC/DC, I’m reminded of something that my dad said to me at the time of Bon Scott’s death when I was just 13: “They might find another singer but no-one is ever going to sound as dirty as Bon Scott.” That’s not to berate Brian Johnson, who was a hugely powerful vocalist who delivered some brilliant rock anthems and who embodied the spirit of AC/DC for well over three decades. But he had a different style of vocal delivery to his predecessor and as I’m listening to Axl Rose belting out the likes of Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and High Voltage I can’t help feeling he’s absolutely nailing those old Bon Scott tunes and bringing back some of that elusive “dirtiness” that my dad was always looking for. Perhaps, especially given I’d seen a brilliant AC/DC set at Wembley Stadium last year with Brian Johnson still at the helm, I’d probably have liked a few more Scott era classics in the set-list but that’s a minor quibble. Rose handles both the Scott and Johnson material with aplomb.

Musically, the band are as together as ever: blinding solos from Angus Young, crunching rhythm from Stevie Young (Malcolm’s successor), ever reliable bass-lines from Cliff Williams and powerhouse drumming from Chris Slade. The effects are all present and correct, too: the over the top lighting show, the crazy video shorts, the clanging bell, the firing cannons…

I’m genuinely pleased that I approached this gig in a spirit of optimism and open-mindedness. Axl Rose would certainly never have been my immediate thought for a replacement frontman for AC/DC. But he and the rest of the band gave us a night to remember. A credible band with a credible lead singer delivering a truly astonishing show. Long live AC/DC.

Setlist:
Rock or Bust
Shoot to Thrill
Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation
Thunderstruck
High Voltage
Rock ‘n’ Roll Train
Hells Bells
Given the Dog a Bone
If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)
Sin City
You Shook Me All Night Long
Shot Down in Flames
Have a Drink on Me
T.N.T.
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Highway to Hell
Riff Raff
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

13322104_10154216955496449_2144576664559662065_n

http://www.acdc.com/

Previous review: AC/DC at Wembley

Advertisements

AC/DC at Wembley Stadium 4/7/15

“Rock is dead” pronounced Kiss’s Gene Simmons, never a man to hold back on his opinions. But that would seem a highly difficult concept to explain to anyone seeing 80,000 people flooding into Wembley Stadium for AC/DC on this hot July evening.

Of course, Simmons was talking about the rock bands of the future, but more of that later.

Five years since their last world tour ended and five years since they last played in Britain, the band’s recent well-publicised problems (founder Malcolm Young tragically forced into retirement by dementia and drummer, Phil Rudd, removed from the band following court appearances on a range of charges including murder threats) have done nothing to dim the level of interest and excitement in this latest tour.

And what a memorable night this has turned out to be. For a gig this size the sound is utterly brilliant, helped I am sure by the huge wall of Marshall Amps neatly stacked up across the back of the otherwise Spartan stage. Stevie Young, replacing Malcolm, delivers the grinding trademark guitar sound made famous by his absent uncle; while Chris Slade, back with the band after an absence of two decades, is a hugely powerful drummer ensuring he and bassist, Cliff Williams, provide an unrelenting rhythm throughout the evening. Vocalist, Brian Johnson, is in excellent form for a man of his age and Angus Young’s lead guitar is as spellbinding as ever.

It’s the songs, though, that really make AC/DC the band that it is.  They begin the show with the title track of their 2014 album, Rock or Bust, and return to the album for two other songs later on. But apart from those,  together with Thunderstruck from their 1990 album, Razor’s Edge, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Train from 2008’s Black Ice (their first 100% bona-fide classic song since For Those About To Rock in my view) ; the setlist is not dramatically different from when I saw them for the first time, 34 years ago, aged 15. But that is precisely what I and everyone else present want. A gloriously good-natured capacity crowd at Wembley Stadium sing along to classic after classic: Back in Black, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap; High Voltage, You Shook Me all Night Long; TNT, Whole Lotta Rosie…

The two hours whizz by and a following a spectacular version of Let There Be Rock and a lengthy guitar solo that’s still as manic as anything I ever saw from Angus Young thirty-odd  years ago, the crowds are calling for an encore and the band return to the stage for an unmissable Highway to Hell and a spectacular For Those About to Rock, complete with canon gun fire and pyrotechnics.

While rock music has undergone many different permutations, adaptations and reinventions since rock ‘n’ roll first came on the scene, apart from the increase in power and volume, AC/DC’s songs and riffs have not really deviated from that basic musical template that was set for rock ‘n’ roll back in the mid-fifties.  This must have played a major part in the band’s success and longevity, playing songs that are accessible, instantly recognisable and that can be sung along to in a way that most heavy rock or metal bands could only dream of.

And when AC/DC finally stop playing, these 80,000 people here tonight (representing a very healthy mix of male and female fans and a hugely varied range of age groups from teens upwards) are they all going to give up on live rock music altogether? I very much doubt it. Rock is very much alive and AC/DC, themselves, are playing a big part in ensuring it will long outlive them.

Setlist:

Rock or Bust
Shoot to Thrill
Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Play Ball
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Thunderstruck
High Voltage
Rock ‘n’ Roll Train
Hells Bells
Baptism by Fire
You Shook Me All Night Long
Sin City
Shot Down in Flames
Have a Drink on Me
T.N.T.
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Highway to Hell
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

http://www.acdc.com/

11707624_10153458459376449_9087496687700488117_n