Sunday, October 14, 2012

CLASSIC ALBUMS LIVE: AC/DC's "Back in Black" (Guest Post)

Guest blogger
Michelle Wilson
has been racking up 
massive rock and
roll "frequent flyer"
miles this year.
She recently
attended a doozie
of a show and as
always, she's filed
a detailed report.

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CLASSIC ALBUMS LIVE: AC/DC's Back in Black
Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts / Melbourne, FL / 10.12.12

Classic Albums Live / 10.12.12 (Photos: Michelle Wilson)
Craig Martin's Classic Albums Live series finished its run for this season at Melbourne, Florida’s King Center. And the boys in black sure did go out with a bang — a  down-and-dirty, in-your-face delivery of AC/DC’s 1980 blockbuster, Back in Black. This was the first record that the band would release with new frontman Brian Johnson following the February 1980 death of original singer Bon Scott. It has become one of the best-selling records of all time along with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Michael Jackson's Thriller.


This show was all about FUN. Guitarist Damian Arokium joined the usual suspects this time around, including guitarist Dom Polito, bassist Joe Clements, drummer Rick Vatour, and venerable vocalist Nick Hildyard, whose voice was in perfect pitch to nail the Scott and Johnson vocals. The Polito/Arokium shredding combo was enhanced by the lively antics between the two, channeling the true rock and roll spirit of guitarist brothers Angus and Malcolm Young. From my fifth-row vantage point, I certainly could appreciate the general joviality taking place on stage. I have a sneaking suspicion that Rick Vatour had a lot to do with it. I always enjoy CAL performances that include Vatour, and not just because he is a dynamite drummer. His presence always steps up the fun-factor a few notches, whether he’s throwing his drumsticks or flexing his muscles, the crowd eats it right up.

The band took the stage promptyly at 8PM with Hildyard belting out the gritty sounds of “Hells Bells.” For a fast-paced first set, fans rocked out to the remainder of Back In Black. The crowd was a bit more subdued than I expected for the heavy-hitting AC/DC tracks, but CAL delivered a rock-solid performance. Other noteworthy cuts included “Shoot to Thrill” and “Given the Dog a Bone,” as well as fan faves “Back in Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Polito, Arokium, and Clements delivered strong backing vocals and great guitar/bass work on “What Do You Do For Money Honey” and “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.” Hildyard playfully informed the audience that Arokium only can be enticed out on the road for AC/DC performances. For a guitar player of his caliber, let’s hope that changes and we see more of him at future CAL shows. In a graceful move, Hildyard also gave a shout-out and thank-you to long-time King Center front-of-house engineer Richard Tater, the key element to CAL’s  monstrous live sound.

Despite delivering a  spot-on re-creation of  Back In Black, it was in the second set that CAL really was able to explode and expand on the vast AC/DC catalog. Focusing on the Bon Scott era, CAL delivered a ferocious triple-shot from 1979’s Highway to Hell including the title track, “Girls Got Rhythm,” and “Shot Down in Flames.” Other iconic classics included “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” Whole Lotta Rosie,” with a guitar pass-off from Arokium to Hildyard for a solo, and a crowd-rousing rendition of “T.N.T.” Deeper cuts “Sin City” and “Jailbreak” were thrown into the mix, with “Thunderstruck” as the first encore and “Let There Be Rock” as the show’s closer, arguably the quintessential anthem of the Bon Scott era.

I’ll admit that I was not the biggest AC/DC fan in the world going into this show. Truth be told, I despised them. But thanks to this phenomenal performance, I now can tolerate them. Almost.

I am, however, a huge fan of Classic Albums Live and have seen five of the six performances at the King Center this season (I had to draw the line at The Doors). I’m already looking forward to next season’s line-up.

-Michelle Wilson
(October 2012)

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