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Concert Reviews:
Familiarity breeds contentment for AC/DC fans at Ford Field
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT -- When it comes to rock 'n' roll shows, few bands are as dependable -- and dependably predictable -- as AC/DC.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

When there are lengthy gaps between tours, repetition goes down easier than it does for a group that comes through more often. So on Tuesday night, Sept. 8, at Ford Field -- AC/DC's first metro area visit in more than six years and first stadium show ever in these parts -- the Australian quintet's Rock Or Bust World Tour concert bore plenty of similarities to tours that came before, from the set list to the visual stunts.

And that was just fine with the crowd of about 43,000, many wearing blinking souvenir devil's horns and more than a few dressed facsimiles of lead guitarist Angus Young's trademark schoolboy uniform.

There were a few fresh wrinkles during the 20-song, two-hour show, of course. Following an exuberant opening set by Vintage Trouble -- whose frontman, Ty Taylor, did some impressive crowd-surfing during the song "Run Like the River" -- AC/DC introduced a new opening video, a lunar asteroid hurtling towards Earth, colliding as pyrotechnics lit up the stadium and the group charged into the title track from its latest album, "Rock Or Bust." It slipped two more fresh songs into the set -- "Play Ball" and "Baptism by Fire" -- all sounding close enough to the rest of AC/DC's to keep things flowing smoothly.

New guitarist Stevie Young played as tight and sinewy as his uncle and AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young, who's retired due to a battle with dementia. And Chris Slade, returning to the drum chair after 21 year away, was explosive but also in the pocket, driving the songs forward behind the rhythmic chug of Young and bassist Cliff Williams.

The bulk of the show, meanwhile, featured established favorites, from enduring radio hits such as "Back In Black," You Shook Me All Night Long," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" "Thunderstruck" and a (literally) fiery "Highway to Hell" to deeper trolls such as "High Voltage" and "Sin City." Angus Young laced them all with sharp guitar solos while sporting his trademark schoolboy's outfit, gradually shedding pieces until his sweaty visage made him look like a demonic gremlin, or Tolkein's Gollum.

The night's modest theatrics were greeted like old friends by the Ford Field fans. A giant bell swung overhead as the group romped through "Hell's Bells," while an inflatable floozy bobbed above the amplifiers during "Whole Lotta Rosie." And the show-closing "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" was, of course, accompanied by explosions from a dozen cannon positioned around the stage.

Most of the material was performed in fast, faithful fashion, though frontman Brian Johnson, who said little to the crowd other than a "The party starts now!" salutation at the start of the show, extended "High Voltage" with a bit of call-and-response with the crowd. The major exception was, as usual, "Let There Be Rock," which on Tuesday was a 19-minute epic housing an interminable amount of soloing by Angus Young all over the stage, from atop the amplifiers to a raised hydraulic platform that stretched out onto the stadium floor.

But, again, that's something that's expected from AC/DC after all these years. And Tuesday's show proved that fans can still rely on the group to capably deliver exactly what they want.



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