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Concert Reviews:
AC/DC Lets There Be Rock At The Palace

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2008

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AUBURN HILLS -- The ethos of an AC/DC concert comes down to one thing; as the song says, "Let There Be Rock."

And there was rock, in abundance, at the Palace on Wednesday night (Nov. 5), when the veteran Australian band -- whose new album, "Black Ice," is No. 1 on the Billboard charts for two weeks running -- returned for the first time in eight years. It was (extremely) loud, proud and, over the course of 18 songs and 100 minutes, full of the things AC/DC fans love and respect -- arsenal of taut 'n' sturdy rock anthems, killer riffs (and ageless, Chuck Berry-styled duck walks) from schoolboy-suited Angus Young's guitar, the banshee wails of frontman Brian Johnson and an array of over-the-top eye candy.

There was even a classic rock senior moment when the 61-year-old Johnson addressed the suburban Detroit crowd as Cleveland, cheerfully explaining it later as "a slip of the brain."

That kind of not-quite-vulgar displays of power, combined with AC/DC's long absence from the scene, is what made Wednesday's show the hottest ticket of the year, even in this tight economic climate, with the crowd of more than 15,000 snapping up tickets in mere minutes when they went on sale (a return visit is expected in 2009). It also helps that between radio play and video games, AC/DC endures thanks to classic hits such as "Back in Black," "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Highway to Hell," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and "Thunderstruck," all of which were aired at the show along with an extended singalong blues vamp of "The Jack," "deep" cuts like "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be," "Shoot to Thrill" and "T.N.T."

AC/DC also tapped into "Black Ice" for five songs, though a couple ("Big Jack" and the title track) sent fans screaming for more beer while the topical "War Machine" and the poppy "Anything Goes" came late enough in the show to hold the crowd's attention.

The first single, "Rock 'n' Roll Train," was a winning show-starter, however, preceded by an animated video of a Young-driven train being hijacked and crashing amidst a flurry of pyrotechnics, from which the quintet emerged playing the song. There were tried and true gimmicks as well -- Johnson swinging from the rope of a giant overhead bell during "Hell's Bells," the giant inflatable woman accompanying "Whole Lotta Rosie" and a half-dozen cannon firing during the closing portions of "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)" -- and a few new wrinkles like Young being hoisted towards the rafters via a hydraulic lift during the long and lusty "Let There Be Rock."

It was a welcome, and overdue, return of a band that's successful turned itself into a brand, with a product that fans have yet to tire of hearing or seeing. Hell may not be a bad place to be, but an AC/DC show, like the one on Wednesday, was more like rock 'n' roll heaven.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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