Adam Williams


City: New York
Venue: Roseland Ballroom
Date: 2003-03-11
High Volume, High Voltage For devoted AC/DC fans, what could be better than seeing their heroes perform in a packed football stadium? How about seeing their heroes rock a 3000+ SRO club and blow the roof off in the process? Such was the case recently as the lads from Down Under played a special one night gig at NYC's Roseland Ballroom. Fresh off the previous evening's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, AC/DC took center stage and proved that middle age has not slowed them a bit. As this was a record company event rather than a tour date show, some in attendance may have anticipated an abridged version of the group's usual "big venue" performance. What concert goers got was a blistering 90 minute set, as Australia's best known export guided the faithful through a virtual history tour of its expansive song catalogue. Tickets holders who arrived early were forced to endure a rather inauspicious start to their outing. An apparently nameless and quite forgettable opening band appeared at roughly 8:00 p.m., and toiled through a handful of songs that were increasingly horrendous. Instead of appreciating his proverbial moment in the sun and engaging the crowd with friendly banter, the group's lead singer chose instead to prance about and insult those down in front with various jibes and criticisms. Perhaps underestimating the spirit of AC/DC's fans, this record company darling was quickly met by a sea of middle fingers and angry chants of "You suck! Fuck off!" It is safe to say that this "band" will be hard pressed to experience a tougher, or more unappreciative crowd. The intermission saw the chorus of "Angus! Angus!" steadily grow, reverberating off the walls and ceiling of the historic dancehall. As the energy level reached a fevered pitch, AC/DC hit the stage at 9:00 p.m. sharp and opened the night with "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be" from the album Let There Be Rock. In a scant few minutes time, the die had been cast and things only got better from that point on. With barely a moment to catch their collective breath after the opening salvo, fans went wild upon hearing the first crunching power chords from concert staple "Back in Black". He may be small in stature, but Angus Young remains a giant among hard rock guitarists. The signature sound drawn from his Gibson SG is amazing, not only in its bone bashing precision, but also for its consistency; it simply has not changed one iota over time. Moving through the set with ease, the band pulled a few surprises from their bag of tricks. Three songs from the Powerage album were featured: "Gone Shootin'", "Rock and Roll Damnation", and "What's Next to the Moon". As these tunes are not as readily heard on radio or in concert as much of AC/DC's other material, loyalists got to hear something special. Set list regulars "Stiff Upper Lip", "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", and the ground-shaking "Thunderstruck" were played effortlessly, and Brian Johnson's metal shriek sounded as good as it ever has. As was to be expected, material from the album Back In Black anchored the night's festivities. Rousing renditions of "Shoot to Thrill", "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution", and "You Shook Me All Night Long" were overshadowed only by the ominous tolling (and lowering from the ceiling), of the Bell from Hell, and the subsequent playing of "Hell's Bells". Additional set material included "If You Want Blood" and the title track from Highway to Hell, "T.N.T." and "The Jack" from High Voltage, "Hard As a Rock" off of Ballbreaker, and the uproarious "Whole Lotta Rosie" from Let There Be Rock. At the very least, the Roseland gig proved several things: First, AC/DC have gotten better with age. The rhythm section of drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams remains rock solid; Malcolm Young ably supports his brother with some outstanding backing guitar work; Brian Johnson still belts out tunes with passion; Angus Young continues to dent eardrums while partaking in his trademark antics of writhing about on the floor and dropping his knickers mid-set. Second, after thirty years of recording and touring the world, the band has lost none of their enthusiasm for what they do. Wherever AC/DC play, fans can count on getting the best bang for their buck. Third, their material remains as timely and dynamic as ever. Songs from the Bon Scott days sit comfortably amongst more current tunes, irrespective of whether they are grounded in growling blues riffing or full blown metal bombast. Simply stated, AC/DC enter their fourth decade without having lost a beat, and now enjoy a deserved place amidst other music luminaries in the Hall of Fame. Those fortunate enough to see the group up close and personal at Roseland experienced a phenomenal performance, and should cherish the moment. It doesn't get any better.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.