Concert Reviews

Last Night: AC/DC at American Airlines Center

American Airlines Center
November 2, 2009

Better than: sleepwalking through another night of the World Series snoozefest...

AC/DC didn't rip a page from the Rolling Stones playbook last night and dig deep into its early catalog.

Rather, with few exceptions, the band played it by the numbers, sticking predominantly to its (admittedly sizeable) catalog of run-into-the-ground, overexposed radio hits.

But what was worse was that the band seemed to play these songs without much genuine enthusiasm.

You can't help but feel for the band: the members' age averages in the early 60s, and this was their second sweep through Dallas on what has to be a very tiring "Black Ice Tour."

They look and sound older.

And everything just seemed... off. The stage, the cymbals on the drumset, and Angus' outfit and guitar were all a little too polished and blingy. Drummer Phil Rudd woefully dangled a cigarette from his mouth through a handful of songs (the ultimate lack-of-morale body language) and Malcolm Young's head-bangs and foot-stomps certainly didn't have the same pep they did in the '80s.

Even the crowd seemed let down: Succumbing to a well-controlled, bouncer-heavy concert floor, it seemed most were content to just stand at their seat and nod along.

What the fuck was this, a church revival?

But not all was disappointing.

First, there is always Angus Young. Despite his older, toned-down level of neck thrashing, and a pitiful amount of male-pattern baldness, he still delivers the same scathing guitar playing and bountiful energy he always has. And while he could really stand to freshen up the old standard moves like his schoolboy-outfit stripshow, and the old standard fretboard-run of triplet scales during his spotlight solo, he's still a hell of lot of fun to watch, and that feeling of rock legend awe still hankers in the back of your mind as you look on.

And the band deserves credit (especially Brian Johnson's voice; it's sounded much worse around the "Thunderstruck" era, for whatever reason) for "still doin it at that age," and blah blah blah. Sure.

But AC/DC could stand to branch out a little from the same basic show blueprint it's been spewing for decades. And, while it was cool to hear the odd semi-gem, like "Shoot to Thrill" or "Hell Aint a Bad Place to Be", would it kill the band to pull out old, dirty-sex numbers like "Squealer" or something?

Critic's notebook

Personal Bias: It's AC/DC. C'mon.

By The Way: For almost the same money AAC charges you for a garden-variety hot dog, you can take a short drive to Reno's Grill in Deep Ellum after the show, and get the amazing Chicken & Peanut Butter Whiz Bang sandwich. Worth the extra drive.

Set List:

Rock & Roll Train
Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Big Jack
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Shot Down in Flames
Black Ice
The Jack
Hells Bells
Shoot to Thrill
War Machine
Dog Eat Dog
Shook Me All Night Long
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Highway To Hell
For Those About to Rock...

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Alan Ayo