Photos by Daniel Kramer
In this season of hard times, there could have been no better band to close out Houston's banner concert year than original Aussie working-class heroes AC/DC, who still look the part to a T. And Aftermath can't think of a better way to begin his review of last night's sold-out Toyota Center stomping than simply printing the set list, so here goes:
Rock and Roll Train/ Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be/ Back in Black/ Big Jack/ Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap/ Thunderstruck/ Black Ice/ The Jack/ Hell's Bells/ Shoot to Thrill/ Anything Goes/ You Shook Me All Night Long/ TNT/ Whole Lotta Rosie/ Let There Be Rock/ Highway to Hell/ For Those About to Rock
So there you have it. More than two solid hours of rafter-reaching Rock, featuring several of the filthiest riffs ever created, from five geezers who drew equally well from the Guitar Hero crowd - i.e. kids young enough to be their grandchildren - as from the generation already old enough to drink when 1976 debut High Voltage came out.
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About half the crowd was clad in plastic flashing devil horns - which created a cool fire-and-ice effect when combined with the soft blue glow of the ubiquitous cellphones - but every last one of us was singing along, stomping our feet, punching the air, banging our heads, thrusting our hips and sacrificing our maxed-out holiday stress levels to the flames of "Highway to Hell" and the cannon fire of "For Those About to Rock." As the sweatier and sweatier Angus Young shed his schoolboy clothing Sunday night - revealing a lovely pair of AC/DC boxer shorts during the Jack - so shed we our inhibitions and worries.
It was exactly what Aftermath and, he suspects, no small number of his brethren Sunday night needed to hear, a catharsis born on the Angus and Malcolm Young's gnashing riffs and airtight interplay, Brian Johnson's feral howl and laddish geniality ("Now that's what I call a welcome," he gushed after "Rock and Roll Train") and the steady-as-she-goes rhythms of engine room Cliff Williams (bass) and Phil Rudd (drums).
Particularly during the serrated new song "War Machine," but really all night, Sunday's show brought to mind nothing short of Leni Riefenstahl's notorious 1935 documentary Triumph of the Will - only with the salivating, seething mass of people pressed into the service of rock and roll instead of fascism. The economy is in tatters, the health-care system is on life support, terrorism looms everywhere (and nowhere) and the military is mired in two open-ended wars, but as long as AC/DC is at the controls, hell ain't a bad place to be at all.
If you want blood, you got it. - Chris Gray