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Concert Reviews:
AC/DC's "Hell" Is Heavenly At The Palace
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUBURN HILLS -- AC/DC has long posited the theory that "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be."

Neither is an AC/DC show.

The veteran rockers' concert Sunday night (Aug. 16) at the Palace of Auburn Hills wasn't the instant sell-out sensation of its November stop; there were chunks of unsold seats and promoters even offered those attending Crue Fest 2 the previous day at the DTE Energy Music Theatre a chance to buy tickets for one-third the price. But that hardly deterred AC/DC, who skied in from Chicago barely a half-hour before it hit the stage, from its usual, riff-laden, eardrums-mandatory sensory assault that was every bit as potent on Sunday as it was nine months prior.

And this time frontman Brian Johnson, who said hello to Cleveland in November, remembered he was playing in the Detroit area.

Sunday's show was largely the same as that previous performance, though a little bit longer at just over two hours and with two additional songs -- "Shot Down in Flames" and "War Machine," the latter from AC/DC's chart-topping 2008 release "Black Ice" -- added to the repertoire. The eye candy was still the same but just as pleasing, too: a show-starting cartoon that led to a large pyrotechnics-laden locomotive crashing through the backdrop as the band ripped into "Rock and Roll Train;" the giant bell for "Hells Bells;" flames shooting from the locomotive during "T.N.T.;" the massive inflatable for "Whole Lotta Rosie;" and six cannon firing rounds during the show-closing "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)."

The standards -- "Back in Black," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," "Thunderstruck," "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Highway to Hell" -- were delivered with efficient, Spartan energy, while "Black Ice" tracks such as "Big Jack," "Anything Goes" and the title track are holding up well nearly a year later. And AC/DC allowed itself to stretch out twice, with lead guitarist Angus Young's striptease during "The Jack" and a lengthy rendition of "Let There Be Rock," with Young soloing from a rising hydraulic platform near the center of the Palace floor as confetti swirled around him.

Towards the end of the show, Johnson told the Palace crowd "we'll see you again," although rumors persist that this is AC/DC's last road trip. In either event, Sunday's trip to "Hell" was nothing less than a heavenly experience.



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