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Review: AC-DC at Gillette Stadium

AC/DC, live at Gillette Stadium, on July 28, 2009
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  August 3, 2009

Photo: David F. Nicholson

Before this past Tuesday, I'd seen AC/DC up close either two or three times. At their 2003 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Roseland, I sat next to Billy Joel, who said they were his favorite band.

My other memorable AC/DC experience came about a year earlier, when I had dinner with bassist Cliff Williams on the west coast of Florida, where he lives across from a friend's parents. Homeboy was sporting snakeskin sneakers, and I thought that was extremely cool. After the Roseland gig, I e-mailed Cliff the show review I'd written for Gene Simmons's short-lived Tongue magazine. Cliff's response: "Good shit, I thought."

My third AC/DC endeavor — and one I'm only three-quarters sure actually happened — was the Blow Up Your Video tour in 1988. I still have the ticket, and even some "In Angus We Trust" cash that rained from the ceiling, but since I was just nine years old at the time, I don't recall being there.

I don't remember much from my night at Gillette Stadium this week either, but I took detailed notes, so here goes.

You need a relatively dumb "Yankees Suck"–chanting crowd to make a raucous metal show like this work, and offering free tickets on the radio helped secure that demographic. In the parking lot, I heard a guy ask his friend: "Do you know how many fucking millions of people died from swine flu in the last month alone?"

I spent half an hour outside ogling truck-stop waitresses and the bearded bastards in dirty white hightops they love. Usually you see such vagrants in groups of three or four, but there were tens of thousands of them at Foxborough. I recognized at least three mother-daughter pairs from

Anvil opened up, and — other than the drum solo that I think is still going on — their set was a shit sandwich stuffed with no-frills cheese metal ("Race Against Time" was particularly horrendous). I fully support Anvil's getting to live out their dream; I'm just not sure that they should get to live it at the expense of 100,000 eardrums.

There were an alarming number of children in the venue, and for a minute I expected to have problems roasting spliffs all night. But when the lights went down — and AC/DC's titanic flaming locomotive crashed on stage — even parents started reaching back for joints.

"Back in Black" rang about three songs in, and the sky erupted with cheers. Angus Young jetted up the long catwalk, and Brian Johnson screeched mightily. Heads roared for "The Jack," as Angus stripped to his skivvies and cameramen zoomed in on wrinkled tattoo'd boobs in the audience.

Speaking of trashy whores — there was a woman in the handicapped section with a wheelchair-bound boy whom she must have borrowed for the evening. She stood directly in front of the poor kid the entire time, pausing only between songs to turn around, pinch his cheeks, and squeeze his glow-in-the-dark devil horns.

In their two-hour set, the band cranked tons of new joints, and though the songs from last year's Black Ice (Columbia) kept blood percolating, they didn't get shirts lifted à la "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Thunderstruck," "Shoot to Thrill," and the 15-minute guitar solo that Angus shredded from 50 feet above the 50-yard line.

As impressive as the aging band's energy was their flame-throwing, confetti-strewn spectacle. The show had a bigger carbon footprint than Rush Limbaugh's polluted prostate. Pyrotechnics are sweet when they're warranted, and "TNT" warrants fire — much the way "Whole Lotta Rosie" warrants a 250-foot blow-up female doll with monster chest cannons riding the AC/DC train reverse-cowgirl style.

In the end, everyone got down and then some. Jocks jumped to "Hell's Bells" (outside the locker room for a change), married men cheated (vicariously) on their wives to "Dirty Deeds," guidos sported their wicked-awesome bedazzled AC/DC T-shirts, and hundreds of kids caught their first contact highs. In the words of Cliff himself: "Good shit, I thought."

Related: Photos: AC-DC at Gillette Stadium, Long way to the top, Rock and rote, More more >
  Topics: Live Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Pop and Rock Music,  More more >
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