Axl/DC Takes on Buffalo
By Stephen Wilt
Walking up to the First Niagara Center, I must admit, I was quite skeptical if Axl Rose had what it takes to front AC/DC. I quivered at the thought of such a pair. One of few remaining rock legends, AC/DC conjoined with 1985’s Guns ‘n’ Roses singer Axl Rose in the search for a replacement of longtime singer Brian Johnson after being advised to leave the tour out of fear of going completely deaf. The choice of Axl Rose felt like a pairing of quick decision, with little thought to the outcome out of desperation.
It was after the first line to newest hit “Rock or Bust” that I realized I couldn’t be more wrong. AC/DC has never done anything more than killed their shows and why should Sunday, September 11th be different.
Rose absolutely killed it, sounding much like a young Bon Scott.
AC/DC, a rock band that spent much of the last half century perfecting their tight-knit moves and notes which have no problem reaching the top of arenas, had little difficulty in inviting a new singer to the stage.
Sunday’s set consisted of rather a variety of both new and classic songs. Moving from hard-riff classics to straight grooves, ranking from “High Voltage” to a sweet Rose spin on “Thunderstruck.” It was clean, heavy and yet sounded straight off of one of their 1970s vinyl classics.
Perhaps the main act and star of the show was the man who started it all in the beginning, guitarist and self-proclaimed Devil child Angus Young, who took a Hooker blues-rock base as a young teen, and blasted it into rock anthems known around the world.
Upon talking with Angus, he has and will always have one thing to say about his music: “If you think it’s too loud, GO AWAY.”
Jogging down the aisles much like a young Mick Jagger, Young drove the beat and energy of the band Sunday night. As Young’s fingers moved while playing his well-known riffs, it felt as his only purpose on this planet was to deliver music to your ears.
Young speaks candidly and cheerfully about the future of AC/DC.
“We’re committed to finishing this tour,” Young says.
Although there is much controversy over the future of the band without Brain or Malcolm after this tour, Young admits, “Who knows what I’ll feel after? When you sign on and say, ‘I’m gonna do this and that,’ it’s always good to say at the end of it, ‘I’ve done all I said I would do.'”
Much credit is deserved to both retiree Cliff Williams and drummer Chris Slade, who with no flashy solos, no publicity and no signs of aging, led the band’s backbone for the entire night.
The band has been through many fill-ins for members in the last several years, but yet they manage to keep delivering to fans across the world.
AC/DC fans idolize the vocals of original singer Bon Scott, and no different for Brian Johnson. Rose had enormous shoes to fill, and the fans without a question would crucify him if he wasn’t properly prepared. But he was. And he delivered one memorable performance for the audience and the band itself. From the ear-piercing high notes of “Back in Black” to the slow blues licks of “Live Wire,” Rose nailed it.
AC/DC still is and will always be, at the end of the night, Angus Young and his mocking schoolboy outfit, leading the fans though a night of their life you would not want to miss if given the chance.