Filtering through the main doors to BC Place the crowd could barely contain itself. Merchandise stands were swarmed with consumer excitement, and beer stands were a flutter with over eager party animals. The night was to be filled with great music, intense lighting effects and over the top displays courtesy of both bands. The Answer started the night off on the right foot, with their Zeppelinarian style of music, many in the crowd surely noted their name to search out the new album once they returned home. BC Place is a huge venue for any show, the sound quality is very poor, but the sheer size of the crowd energizes the band. The overall feeling of the night, was that of pure magic and entrancement. This was a memorable show to say the least, and may have been the last time the mega rockers will grace Vancouver with their presence.
The varying collection of individuals circling the arena had one single unifying goal, rock out to AC/DC. Merchandise stands hocked their wares, at the usual prices. T-shirts sold out at an alarming rate, and most people were disappointed when they were unable to attain a piece in their size. A noted addition to the usual wares was the $2 set of ear plugs being sold. I have been to many shows and this is the first time I have seen any ear protection being provided at all. With this new addition you knew the show was going to be loud, intense and a pure attack of rock n roll on the masses ears.
After making my way to the floor and taking my seat in the over cramped plastic seating, I waited. The cluster of people were a buzz with a yearning for music. Suddenly the lights faded, and The Answer took to the stage. Pure rock bliss emanated from the platform, it was a pleasure to see this up and coming band command such attention at this venue. Very few people have knowledge of this act in Canada, but they draw large crowds in Europe. The lead vocals, Cormac Neeson, revives the Zeppelin style, with a Robert Plant inspired look and sound. The biggest hook for me is the style, but most of their songs lack a major guitar accent. If this band can raise its use of solos and drive more power to its axe man, they will be an epic force.
After the incredible set by The Answer, the lights came back on. The collection of music lovers became a flutter with life and began bombarding the beer stands immediately. More fans filled the stadium, soon their wasn’t an empty seat in the house. Security patrolled the arena, ready to remove any rowdy concert goers. The last of the merchandise flew off the shelves as if this was the last chance anyone would ever have to acquire any of it. Everyone sat in their seats ready to take in what was to come.
The lights lowered again, and the every individual jumped to their feet. An intense roar ensued from the eager stadium. The stage became lit with a plethora of cone lights, and a giant AC/DC hat about 100 feet across begans glowing on top of the stage, complete with horns and all. Finally the tiny black silhouettes scattered to their spots on the stage. Huge spotlights lit them like super human beings, the stadium lost its mind. Delving almost immediately into a killer set, the night had truly begun.
The complete set list of the night was a whats what of key AC/DC songs, with the occasional uncommon rarity snuck in. Brian Johnson was off a bit on many songs, forgetting a lyric here and there. A few songs he even missed some notes, but this was not caught but the eager crowd, which was chanting along with him. No one goes to an AC/DC show for musical integrity, they go to rock out and to see an amazing stage show. With that said no one missed out on this fateful night. The stage presence of this band is over the top, in the highest echelons of music. Not many can even come close to putting on a show like these guys, they sit high atop of a steep mountain with the likes of the Rolling Stones and KISS.
AC/DC decorates its evenings with many stunts to make the shows memorable. The backdrop of this tour is a giant full size black steam engine. A set of red horns jetting out of the front end and AC/DC written in big letters across the front. Through out the night this is the center focal point of the stage show. Flames and smoke and lights are constantly spewing forth from the beast, to the beat of each and every song. Giant, 100 foot tall, screens are setup all around the stage; this way no one in the stadium misses a moment.
During the last bit of the show, is when the real magic happened. Angus Young scampers down the run way and sits a top a small stage in the center of the venue. Suddenly a platform raises and soon enough Angus is sitting 80 feet up in the air; this entire time he is mashing out a sick solo. Confetti guns began erupting at the base of the platform and fill the stadium with tiny pieces of paper. He continues the solo and races back to the main stage, the crowd is mesmerized by the spectacle. Finally he concludes his near 15 minutes mind melting guitar bit and the arena goes dark. Its finally on to the finally, le piece de resistance.
As is customary with AC/DC shows, they finished with For Those About To Rock. And in the usual fashion they lined the stage with giant replica cannons. At the points in the song where Brian yells “Fire!” the cannons actually go off. This happens about 6 times, and then to finish off the show, the old style weapons just go off in a continual sequence of pure raw power. One, after another, after another and so on, until there is no powder left. Finally the stage blossoms with a fury of fireworks, more explosions bombard the audience with their bassy explosions. Then the lights go out, and the band retreats tot he back ground. The night is over and everyone sits in awe for a few seconds before fleeing to their vehicles.
The evening was perfection on a performance side but left me wondering if this would be the last tour for this epic aging battle horse. Brian seemed lack luster and was missing a good portion of the lyrics. Angus, although a gifted guitarist, is starting to slow down, and lose the ability to truly kill the solos. They work for every dollar, and could play for decades on that premise alone, but you have to wonder how many more brutal body killing tours they would possibly have left in those old bones. I see this as the last true AC/DC mega tour. After this you may see one off shows, or possibly some small fairwell tours, but they are finished. The new blood in the music world is to eager to come up and take their spots for this dying bried to keep limping through intense nights like this.
It is true they did play a 2 hour set and did earn my respect, but the fading of their true ability was too obvious to be overlooked. I am sure no one at the concert will even agree with this, because deep down they don’t want it to be true. The fact is though, a performance can only cover up so much for lack of musical ability. It wont be to far off before Brian cant run on the stage or Angus cant power out the mean mind melting solos. For those who were at this show, mark it down as the last time you will see AC/DC truly bring the fire to a show in Vancouver.
If I have the chance I will see them again, and would never turn down the chance. Music should be listened to live and this is truly the only way of supporting your favorite acts. But these heavy weights of the music community cant keep pulling these tours off every decade. Soon enough they must fade away. All in all AC/DC has elevated its performance to cover up its fading musical integrity, But remember the shows can only get so elaborate. Eventually like everything else, AC/DC will fade to black.