Sold-out crowd enjoys a wild ride aboard AC/DC's 'rock and roll' express


If chest hair could sing, it would probably sound a lot like the dude up on stage practically perspiring testosterone, his face contorted into a grimace suggestive of gastrointestinal distress.

At a sold-out MGM Grand Garden on Friday night, Brian Johnson whinnied and wailed as if he was singing barefoot from atop a mound of broken glass.

The AC/DC frontman's vocals are to hard rock what glasspacks are to hot rods, amplifying the volume, the menace, the gruff rumble.

In short, it's the perfectly imperfect way to give voice to a band that's just about the purest distillation of the male id imaginable.

Primal as a caveman and as gritty as the dirt beneath their fingernails, AC/DC's catalog is equally well suited for fighting or fornicating, posited on sex, volume, violence and lots more sex.

Seriously, Johnson may as well just stuff a microphone down his pants and let his anatomy do the talkin'.

But then again, it pretty much already does.

"This song is about a dirty, dirty woman," Johnson announced at one point in the two-hour show by way of introducing a yet-to-be-named tune, narrowing the list of candidates down to about, oh, 67 songs or so.

The song in question ended up being "The Jack," a dirty blues shuffle that ended with guitarist Angus Young peeling off his clothes piece by piece, eventually dropping trou and bending over to reveal some AC/DC underpants in what may have been the world's least sexy striptease.

"The Jack" is an encapsulation of this band's roots, as, at heart, AC/DC is a barroom blues band with amps cranked to 11.

They're a larger than life take on the genre, pairing its basic, bare-bones sound with a surfeit of hard rock bombast, catalyzed primarily by Young's kinetic playing, which consists of a lot of trilling (hammering on and pulling off of a note simultaneously) and bending the strings like they were made of wet taffy.

"I swear that he has the devil in his fingers, and the blues in his soul," Johnson said of Young midway through the concert, marveling at his bandmates' fleet finger work.

Young's playing is the basis of a sound that gets hips and fists shaking simultaneously.

Like construction workers' catcalls set to a hard, mean beat, there's nothing subtle about it, and true to form, AC/DC shows burst apart at the seams with lots of over-the-top flourishes.

At the MGM Grand Garden, the stage was dominated by a backdrop of a giant locomotive engine, which emerged in a flash of sparks and smoke at the beginning of a show-opening "Rock and Roll Train."

During "Whole Lotta Rosie," a giant, three-story, blow-up version of the titular character in question slowly inflated, straddling the train of course.

And no AC/DC gig would be complete without the ear-blasting firing of a series of cannons, three on each side of the drum riser, during a climactic "For Those About To Rock."

At their best, AC/DC shows are the musical equivalent of a good action flick. They're pointedly overblown, more than a little ridiculous, not meant to be taken all that seriously and require a real suspension of disbelief.

But for all the dudes in the house high fivin' their buddies and hollerin' along to one classic rock chestnut after the next with beers in both hands, an AC/DC concert is a chance to age in reverse, to go from man to boy for an evening.

And in the heart of most every young male lives a love of explosions and watching stuff get set on fire.

On this night, it was the band in question who provided that spark.

Contact Jason Bracelin at 702-383-0476 or e-mail him at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com.

 

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