AC/DC gives Vancouver a brain-numbing ride

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, NOV. 29, 2008

Three seconds after I picked up my AC/DC tickets at GM Place on Friday (November 28), some dude waving a huge wad of cash offered me $400 apiece for them, then quickly upped the price to $450 when he saw where the primo seats were. Since they were reviewer comps, I stood to make a cool $900 out of the deal, which is a tad more than I bring in most nights. Nine hundred smackers could translate to a mortgage payment and change, a nice addition to the kids’ college fund, or-better yet-a cherry Gibson SG, just like Angus Young’s!

I’d seen AC/DC in concert five times before, so how hard would it be to cobble together a fake review? Too easy, actually, since every AC/DC show is basically the same.

Before I could give in to the lure of easy money, though, something made me reject the scalper and walk away. Call it journalistic integrity. Or call it my wife standing there, looking unimpressed at the thought of not seeing the Aussie legends for the first time.

When we made it through the doors and onto the Garage concourse, the first thing that caught my eye was the blinking red devil-horns people had on their heads. They sold for 15 bucks at the AC/DC merch tables, and were everywhere. I had lots of time to gaze at them, because it took forever to wend our way through the sold-out crowd and get to our seats. If there’s two things AC/DC fans adore, it’s T-shirts and beer, and the spillover from lineups for both resulted in serious human gridlock.

By the time we planted our butts in Section 117, Row 5, Seats 7 and 8, opening band the Answer had finished its half-hour set and people were gearing up for the headliner, gleefully high-fiving each other and hollering “AC-fucking-DC”. Before long, the lights went down and a cartoon of a speeding train flashed on the four huge video screens suspended above and beside the stage.

As it careened along the tracks, cartoon depictions of AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson and a satanic, pointy-tailed Young were shown being serviced and stroked by various animated hotties, who eventually commandeered the choo-choo and caused it to “crash” into the back of the actual stage. At that point a full-scale replica of the locomotive appeared on the stage, and would remain there as the centrepiece for a 20-song set that started with the recent hit “Rock N Roll Train” and ended with 1981’s “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”.

As is always the case at an AC/DC show, the greatest audience response came for the songs it recorded with singer Bon Scott, who fronted the band from 1974 until his booze-related death in 1980. Sure, Johnson-era gems like “Back in Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” never fail to rile fans up, but not to the same degree as “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”, “T.N.T.”, or “Highway to Hell”. And Young always puts on his wildest performances while recreating the sleaziest Scott-sung songs from the ’70s.

During the 1976 ode to gonorrhea “The Jack”, Young pulled off his patented striptease act, making one wonder if there’s anything more pathetic than 16,000-plus people clamouring to see the naked butt of a skinny, balding, 53-year-old man. When the moment came for his traditional mooning of the crowd, though, Young tugged his schoolboy shorts down to reveal only a flashy pair of AC/DC underpants. That’s not the type of thing you’d pay $450 for.

The show’s other props included the huge bell that Johnson swung from during “Hells Bells” and-in a tip of the hat to the Rolling Stones-an enormous inflatable ’ho that straddled the train during “Whole Lotta Rosie”. I’m guessing that hidden behind the row of Marshall cabinets that spanned the stage were several roadies who simultaneously jiggled the huge rubber skank to make it look like she was tapping her foot.

I’m also guessing that the tingling sensations emanating from the back of my skull while I took in that sight were the death throes of some brain cells I’m in dire need of.

Oh well, it’s only rock ’n’ roll.

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