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AC/DC At Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, September 14th, 2016, Reviewed



Seldom will you get the opportunity to compare two huge bands in such minute detail. The reformed Guns N Roses, featuring Axl Rose and Slash, performed at Metlife in July, and the reeling AC/DC, with lead singer Brian Johnson on disability while they try and save his hearing, and the same said Axl Rose, taking his part at AC/DC’s performance last night at Madison Square Garden, The differences in the bands were as clear as humanly possible and  only one conclusion is possible, AC/DC are just too shallow an enterprise to compare with the seriously troubled greatest rock band in the world circa 1987, GNR. When punk UK wiped the charts clean in 1976, only Motorhead and AC/DC survived. It is now clear they survived, because punk’s  proletariat, blue  collar anti-intellectualism fit right in with he Australian band’s alcoholic drenched odes to rock and roll and pussy -in that order. At MSG, the second time I’ve seen them in a year, even the born again Axl couldn’t save the band from a sense of shallowness that lead to the pox of all poxes, boredom.

During a, really pretty good 150 minute run through their greatest hits, AC/DC, or rather, what amounts to guitarist Angus Young and featured artist Axl Rose, kept the energy high, and the traditions long, though Angus no longer hangs from the Bell Hell,. It was a heads down no nonsense brand of hard rock. The riffs were loud, and the licks were aplenty, Axl, who is a new man, in fact he is better than a new man, because he never performed this well on stage till 2016, hit his notes and made the teleprompter readings as painless as possible.

You can’t say enough about Axl’s skills right now. Though not near the equal of his GNR performance, it was still a well sung, selfless piece of frontmanship. I’ve always admired the way he moves, and I admire it more than ever right now. With Guns N Roses, Axl commandeers, with AC/DC he is at the service of Angus Young. And he does his job well, but Angus…  He is considered one of the best guitarists of all time, and he has certainly invented a style, licks with finger picked notes, going back and forth very very quickly, and I admire it. But I don’t want to hear it for 15 minutes straight. In his red school boys uniform, and balding head, his hand perched over his ear as he dashes down the tee neck of the MSG stage. It is both impressive and asinine at the same time. It is, in fact, AC/DC and the heart of the matter: anti-pretensions, very pedantic rocking smartness which seems to exist in a vacuum. Angus is a cliché but he is an Angus cliché. Soloing more than I’ve ever seen him do it before, with  two of his cohorts  MIA, Brian and  Angus’ brother,Malcolm , he has taken the opportunity to finally wear out his welcome. From the Chuck Berry duck walk to the A Midsummer Night’s dream character, to his high energy rush leading, to the repetitive  smart-alecky one hand buzz top, you just want the man to give it a rest.

After awhile, they become as good as the song, so all the hits hit, and all the misses miss, and somewhere in between the relentless energy provides diminishing results. If they cut the set to 90 minutes and if Angus soloed maybe a third as much -cut the entire “Let There be Rock” down the toilet; a relentless tedious piece of ego bearing two hours into the show which seemed to be there solely to piss me off. If Angus must get his ” high-speed pentatonic runs over thunderous power-chord licks” jollies (not one of mine, needless to add), do it 45 minutes in while we still give a shit.  With some editing they’d have had a topnotch show,  but this wasn’t that.  Well before the half way mark, their professionalism and good attitude just wasn’t enough. Except for Axl, who proved again he is one of the top metal frontman in the business.

Grade: B+

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