AC/DC Live at Giants Stadium
July 31, 2009
North American Black Ice Tour

 

 

 

 
Concert review by
Ray D'Ariano
 
 

It's all about karma, I'm convinced of that, and when you add music to the mix, well something special happens. See, back in the day when I was involved in the promotion of artists like Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Who, I had access to tickets, well, the best tickets. They were for radio people, music writers and the like. I handed them out like candy on Halloween, but I always held onto a batch for the people.

For example, I gave a bartender two for an Elton John show. He went and told me it changed his life because he got to see John Lennon's last performance. I didn't know John was going to be there but see, that was the bartender's karma.

Another time I met a guy who commuted on the same train as I did. We became train buds and had conversations about whatever on the otherwise boring trip into the city. We never got around to discussing what we did for a living. We just didn't care. One day he told me his son was driving him crazy because he was a huge Kiss fan and he wanted to go to their sold-out gig at the Garden. Wow, I thought, as I pulled two tickets out of my pocket and gave them to him. He couldn't believe it.

I did this all the time. It was my thing and I loved that I could get the people into the shows.

So it's been a few decades since I was in the position to do that and I found myself in the third row at Giants Stadium for AC/DC. My son Mike got the tickets. He didn't spend anything other than the face value, just went online and these are the seats he got. That's his karma and my karma got me the seat next to him. Rock and Roll never forgets.

See, one time that bartender saw EltonJohnLennon and another time that kid saw Kiss, but now it was payback and I saw one of the greatest concerts of my life performed by AC/DC.

I don't say that lightly. Seen 'em all folks, Stones, Elvis, Rancid, Little Richard, Pantera, Springsteen, Metallica, Allmans, Green Day, Dylan, Queen, and… well you get the point, but AC/DC at Giants Stadium goes down as one of the all-time best concerts I have ever witnessed. I won't rate them one to fifty or anything like that, but if I take all my favorites and throw them in alphabetical order this show tops the list. AC/DC are what rock is all about… loud, nasty, dirty, real, and a whole lot of fun.

There was a steady and heavy downpour as we drove out to the show. The forecast called for flood warnings and rain until the next morning – looked like we were going to get real wet. Ok, so, water right? I had a slight concern about lightning. Mike mused, "How cool would it be to be struck by lightning and die as AC/DC played 'Thunderstruck' live?" Hey, I'm in no rush, but if we all gotta go that would be pretty awesome. Soon as they checked our tickets and we walked onto the very same ground where The New York Giants play professional football, the rain ended. There was not a drop for the entire rest of the evening…karma.

The technical/theatrical parts of the performance were nothing less than sensational. The stage is huge and they have designed a visual presentation that can be enjoyed from wherever you are sitting. At the start there is a wild piece of animation on the huge screen behind the band. Locomotive # 666 roars down the tracks with cartoon images of Angus and the lads, along with some devilish babes creating mischief, and seems to crash through the screen and explode on stage behind the band playing "Rock 'n' Roll Train," the first track off its latest, "Black Ice."

The show is a two-hour Angus Young extravaganza. The school boy uniform is part of that fun element I mentioned, but his playing is no joke. There is no rock/blues player alive today who can touch the astonishing Mr. Young. Go ahead, make your list, but I repeat no one can touch Young. Ask any of the over 40,000 who witnessed the extended solo he took on "Let There Be Rock," elevated above the center of the 50 yard line. That alone made the show unforgettable. Angus Young doesn't play… he is the riffs… the solos are just an extension of his soul or as Brian Johnson told the crowd,"That guy's got the devil in his fingers!"

His brother Malcolm on guitar, Cliff Williams on bass, and Phil Rudd on drums are THE rhythm section to end all. They are the anchor and, at the same time, the tug boat pushing the whole thing constantly forward.

Then there is Brian Johnson, the 61-year-old singer of song, the ballsy front man, in a black sleeveless vest, jeans and cap, who right from the start never loses his smile. His vocals on "Back in Black,'' "Thunderstruck,'' "The Jack,'' and "Highway to Hell, "are……perfect is what they are, and when he arrives on stage and says, "It's good to see you!" he means it. This guy loves what he does and the fans that support him. He's everyman, the perfect traveling companion on the Highway to Hell, a guy you'd love to share a pint with.

The band paid tribute to their first singer, Bon Scott with “Shot Down Flames,” and “Dog Eat Dog.” In the mid-70’s the band released its debut album “High Voltage.” At Giants Stadium they played these songs with higher voltage:

"Rock N Roll Train"
"Hell Ain't A Bad Place to Be"
"Back in Black"
"Big Jack"
"Shot Down in Flames"
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
"Thunderstruck"
"Black Ice"
"The Jack"
"Hells Bells"
"Shoot to Thrill"
"War Machine"
"Dog Eat Dog"
"Anything Goes"
"You Shook Me All Night Long"
"T.N.T."
"Whole Lotta Rosie"
"Let There Be Rock"

Encore:
"Highway to Hell"
"For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)"

I loved it and as a bonus, an enthusiastic fan who sat next to me said, "I will pray for you from Hell" as we bid farewell at the end of the evening.