AC/DC – No Bull, The Director’s Cut [DVD]

Monday, 22 September 2008

Through the duration of their career, the band’s detractors have had great fun and been pretty merciless in their condemnation of AC/DC. They’ve been called anachronistic and misogynistic, lecherous and lascivious, lurid and lewd, cartoonish and mawkish (in the later going of the band’s career) and more; the list of libelous labels is already endless and continues to grow with each successive release. From day one, the band has unfalteringly objectified women (there are songs about sex, but the language of love is a foreign dialect) even now as the band members begin to entertain crowds of people that could be their grandchildren and, really when you break it right down, they’ve managed to achieve a startling longevity on the eight muses they’ve had in their canon since first appearing in 1973: boozing, brawling, balling, boozing and brawling, boozing and balling, brawling and balling, extolling the divine virtues of rock n’ roll and, of course, death. They’ve never made any excuses or apologies for any of these things either; in fact, AC/DC has gone out of its way to celebrate its vices at every turn. Also from day one, people have loved the band unflinchingly. Why? Because AC/DC is a great band possessed of the ability to make a believer out of anyone in the power of rock n’ roll. They rocked 36(!!) years ago, they rocked after original singer Bon Scott died, they rocked through middle age, they rocked after man-child/demon seed guitarist Angus Young lost his hair; they are a rock.

Filmed at one mammoth show in Madrid, No Bull captures AC/DC in what everyone assumed to be the twilight of its’ career (it was twelve years ago in 1996 – but they’re still going with a new album expected on Columbia this year) unleashing what could only be called a quintessential set for the band. From the opening blast of “Back In Black” (in true form, the band appears after a wrecking ball explodes through the set on stage) the brothers Young, singer Brian Johnson, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd take no breaks and take no prisoners as they run (literally – you have to wonder how fifty-three-year-old Angus Young has the stamina to tear back and forth across a stage that appears to be the length of a football field for two hours each day of the 321-date Ball Breaker Tour) through a set characterized by the fact that no hit is missed and no song is glossed over because the band has played it ten thousand times already; on stage, age falls away and each member of the group relishes their time in the spotlight. They absolutely nail fan favorites including “Thunderstruck,” “Hell’s Bells,” “The Jack” and “Highway To Hell” – among a metric tonne of others – and bulldoze through newer songs just to remove and possible doubt that this isn’t a nostalgia act. By the final cannon eruption of “For Those About To Rock,” the band must be exhausted and the audience is glowing from the exertion – that’s a performance to respect.


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