Dec. 4th, 2008

Tonight I saw AC/DC at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. To sum up - my ears are ringing, my throat is raw, and I feel like I've run a marathon.

Yeah, it was that good.

The show opened with a Irish hard rock band called The Answer. The lead singer was akin to an epileptic Axl Rose with a mouse down his pants and a microphone stand surgically attached to his hands. It was an act of will to keep my composure as he vibrated to the music, shaking his gorgeous blond hair in front of his face in such a manner as to conjure up images of Cousin It.

And for all that, The Answer, surprisingly, didn't suck.

The Answer is a hard rock cliche that you can't help but enjoy. Normally opening acts are greeted with a sort of reserved cynicism and sometimes out right contempt. By the end of their very brief half-hour set, The Answer had charmed the audience that had bothered to come in and sit in the stands while they wait for the main event. People were standing, cheering, and rocking along to The Answer's brand of just-better-than-a-bar-band rock and roll. Are they good enough to eventually headline areas? Probably not. However, they are worth a listen. (I'll post a link after I get home from work.) Link to the Answer's Official Website

And then there was AC/DC. From the first pyrotechnic explosions of "Rock n' Roll Train" to the final chords of "For Those About to Rock" the boys really brought it to the Oracle Arena tonight. Phil Rudd (drummer), Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar), and Cliff Williams (bass) played hard but stayed in the background allowing Brian Johnson (singer) and Angus Young (lead guitar) to ham it up for the audience.

There is something simply beautiful about this band. There is a intentional, bare-bones simplicity to their music, which is so heavily rooted in classic rock n' roll and, for those of you music geeks, classical music. Don't believe me? Listen to what arpeggios Angus Young chooses in his solos and riffs. It's like listening to the Ramones - there is a deliberate refusal to do the complicated or revolutionary in the music they write. It is just meant to be fun: cock rock about sex, violence, and rock n' roll. And so in their 50's and 60's, these guys still sound very much like they're in their younger years. Angus is still duck walking and gyrating around the stage like a schoolboy (in uniform, no less). Brian Johnson is still screeching those high notes. Phil Rudd, Malcolm Young, and Cliff Williams are still the engine that keeps the train running. These guys are masters at what they do. Even their stage presence is masterful as they play to the whole audience and actively engage the audience in making music. Oh, I know that is the sign of a good performer, but I have seen acts that will ignore the upper levels or side-view seats. Brian Johnson made sure to sing to and acknowledge those with less-that-optimal views. I found myself in a sense of awe when I stopped to really listen to the sold-out arena around me. Over 15,000 voices chanting "Oi! Oi! Oi!" to the beat of Phil Rudd's drums... it was almost a religious experience.

How can I encapsulate the concert for you? Was it Angus Young's strip tease to "The Jack" that made this concert so exceptional? Or was it the pounding, high voltage rendition of "Thunderstruck" that made this concert memorable? No, I have to say that for me, the highlight of the evening was "Whole Lotta Rosie." The band gave the song everything they got, so that by the time the song had ended and their giant, well-endowed balloon Rosie stopped dancing and started to deflate, the crowd was whipped up into such a maddened state that even Bacchus him/herself wouldn't have been able to resist thrashing to their "last" number, "Let There Be Rock," which featured a blistering solo by Angus Young. After that, there was no place to go but down - metaphorically speaking. The show ended with an encore of "Highway to Hell" and "For those about to rock."

And now, with my ears ringing and mind running, I think I will go to bed and dream rock n' roll dreams. Goodnight internet-land.

Edited 12/6/2008 to add the link



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