I know quite a few people who feel the cannons fired during "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" -- the number that usually closes an AC/DC show -- is hokey, but I happen to think it's one of the iconic images in rock-and-roll theater.
And judging from the cheers, shouts, and wild applause from the sold-out crowd that stayed on their feet during the Australian group's entire show at FedExForum Friday night, I guess I'm not alone.
It was a helluva concert, one that left me with my ears ringing from the sounds cranked out of a row of 10 Marshall stacks, my brain numbed by truly stunning visual effects, and my hands sore from clapping.
The show opened with a tremendous stunt -- a larger than life-size locomotive, belching flames and steam, slid out from behind a curtain to complement the opening number, "Rock and Roll Train." Add to that a four-story doll that inflated (and even tapped her foot to the beat) during "A Whole Lotta Rosie," the huge "Hell's Bell" that dropped from the rafters to kick off the classic song of that name, great videos (including a B-24 dropping guitars and babes from its bomb-bay doors) projected on a pair of giant screens behind the band, and then the row of six massive cannons that boom, boom, and BOOM during the band's closing number, and you have a truly classic AC/DC concert.
The almost two-hour performance featured non-stop hits -- "T.N.T.," "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Back in Black," among others -- from the group that's now been touring for almost four decades, with three songs from their new album, Black Ice, thrown in just to show the band hasn't lost its touch.
Singer Brian Johnson's screeching vocals were actually in good form, and lead guitarist Angus Young -- still wearing that schoolboy outfit at age 55 -- seemed as nimble fingered as he was 20 years ago. His blistering 10-minute solo on his Gibson SG during "Let There Be Rock" not only brought almost constant applause, but a rather surreal scene, when hundreds of concert-goers suddenly whipped out their camera phones to capture him playing on an elevated platform that rose from the middle of the arena.
Johnson told the crowd, "This is for you, Memphis," when the band cranked out "Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)," but he really had the audience in his pocket the whole evening. Diehard fans of AC/DC surely left satisfied, and anyone not familiar with the band or their music probably left impressed. After more than 30 years, these guys can still rock with the best of them, cannons and all.
-- Michael Finger