Given the very public legal battles of longtime drummer Phil Rudd along with the heartbreaking dementia diagnosis and other health woes that forced founding guitarist Malcolm Young from their ranks, Australian music legends AC/DC should, by all accounts, be on the ropes. Even if only by virtue of the fact they have been making albums and touring the world for the last four decades.
Some might argue that it is that adversity that could be helping push the band forward, and what helped make their fiery performance at Moncton’s Magnetic Hill on Saturday night all the more memorable. Despite more than half of the band being closer to age 70 than 60, the band put on a show that many groups half their age might struggle to deliver.
It is not that AC/DC’s music is overly complicated. They have never been a band that wows people with their technical prowess. It is the simplicity behind the music, along with their endurance and remarkable ability to engage their fans, that has kept the group relevant for the last 40 years. What you see is what you get with AC/DC, and no one should dare ask for more.
Opening with the title track from their latest studio effort Rock Or Bust, AC/DC demonstrated they were out for blood from the get-go. Between song banter was kept to a minimum throughout the night. Aside from some cool pyrotechnics and effects that illuminated the gigantic screens that bordered each side of the stage, there was, naturally, no costume changes or elaborate theatrics to divert the impressively-sized audience from the band’s mission.
Incidentally, that’s what AC/DC’s two-hour long show felt like: a mission. A mission to prove that as a band, they have got many miles left in the gas tank. A mission to show how much they still love what they do. It was all about the music, as it should have been, and as everyone knew it would be.
While the band’s well-worn hits like “Back In Black,” “Thunderstruck,” “You Shook Me All Night Long” and encore-opener “Highway To Hell” were among the songs to receive the greatest reception from the audience, Rock Or Bust album tracks like “Baptism By Fire,” and “Play Ball” along with 2009’s “Rock and Roll Train” struck me as so much more than just the cliché inclusion of new material. Although the songs are arguably not as well-known as those mentioned prior, they more than capably build upon the band’s legacy with flying colours.
And what a legacy it is. So much so that by the time the six cannons on stage rang out during the band’s final song of the night, “For Those About To Rock,” it is difficult to fathom that anybody could have been going home feeling disappointed.