AC/DC – AXL/DC (Albatross AR-006/7)

acdc-axl-dc-albatross1-300x300AXL/DC (Albatross AR-006/7)

Festivalground Werchter, Werchter, Belgium – May 16, 2016

Disc 1 (64:28) Intro, Rock Or Bust, Shoot To Thrill, Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, Back In Black, Got Some Rock And Roll Thunder, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Rock ‘N’ Roll Damnation, Thunderstruck, High Voltage, Rock ‘N’ Roll Train, Hells Bells, Given The Dog A Bone, If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)

Disc 2 (68:10) Sin City, You Shook Me All Night Long, Shot Down In Flames, Have A Drink On Me, T.N.T., Whole Lotta Rosie, Let There Be Rock / Guitar Solo, Highway To Hell, Riff Raff, For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

AC/DC have certainly endured their share of difficult times throughout their storied 43 year career, the past couple years have been their most difficult since the passing of Bon Scott in 1980. The loss of founding member and leader Malcolm Young to dementia, Phil Rudd’s legal issues, and most recently Brian Johnson’s hearing loss would have put most bands of their age down, but they soldier on. They recruit Stevie Young, who filled in for Malcolm in 1988, on guitar and Chris Slade who played superbly on the Razors Edge record and tour was brought back on drums. It was Brian Johnson’s hearing issues that would potentially derail the band, yet the group chose to reschedule some dates and in a surprise decision, brought in Guns n Roses singer Axl Rose to fulfill the remaining dates of the tour.

I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical of this, I have been an AC/DC fan since my early teens, their CD’s (and a couple of my first records) grace my collection along with bootlegs, books, couple tour books, couple concert shirts…I love this band. Not a big Axl fan, yet when clips of their first show hit the Internet I certainly watched them and have watched quite a few since then and I have to admit that he has done more than an admiral job, he seems to have reinvigorated himself and AC/DC. His voice strangely fits with the band, more Johnson than Scott and he has done the music justice.

There have been just a few silver releases from this tour, this is the first of one with Axl on vocals, taken from the fourth concert on a 12 date European tour in Werchter, Belgium. The recording on this new release is an audience source of excellent quality, being an open air venue you do get some swirling effect but it does not detract from the recording at all. All instruments and vocals are audible, balance is perfect with a really nice bottom end, there is some very light audience talking noise near the taper but is low in the mix and in this environment is unavoidable. Oh yeah this sounds great when turned up loud. The intro is nice and clear in the mix and the band hit the stage with Rock Or Bust, the standard tour opener. What is interesting about this recording is the crowd noise, I would love to know where it was taped from as after ROB Axl greets the audience to little or no applause, and this continues throughout the concert. Musically AC/DC is a machine, the rhythm section is very tight and Angus still cranks out the leads. There are a few jems played during this tour, Hell Aint A Band Place To Be is one. After the song Axl remarks “Bedlam in Belgium” perhaps the fans were enthusiastic by the stage and paying a bit of homage to the Flick Of The Switch classic. He seems to almost shred his vocals during Back In Black and turns in a very enthusiastic version of the song, it does seem to wake up the audience a bit.

Only two new songs, the opener and Got Some Rock And Roll Thunder, the latter is followed by a great version of Dirty Deeds, Axl seems to really go for the Bon experience on this one and does a few of his nuances during the song I found quite nice and Angus rips a great solo at the songs end. They dust off Rock ‘N’ Roll Damnation much to my delight and again Axl puts his larynx to the test with a blistering Thunderstruck. Another couple highlights end the first disc beginning with Given The Dog A Bone, a deep track from Back In Black and an excellent If You Want Blood.

Sin City starts the second disc, Axl’s vocals in the early part sound disjointed but he picks it up the middle section, Angus delivers some nice and nasty leads yet sadly sounds a bit flat overall. You Shook Me seems to wake the audience, they sing along to the choruses. Axl talks of beer lines prior to Have A Drink On Me, he seems to sing the Back In Black material with great affection, the song also begins to build to the concerts climax with a string of classics that will bring the house down, so to speak. While certainly T.N.T. is no slouch, Whole Lotta Rosie really delivers the goods, Angus plays high energy solos, the audience near the stage must be going ape shit as close to the end Axl has to tell the crowd to “calm down” and directly afterwards has to address the disturbance down front, the crowd will get no reprise as the band launches right into Let There Be Rock, this song is like an old friend, a bit older but can still kick your ass when it needs to. The song is also a vehicle for a bit of schoolboy fun as Angus takes his playing up a notch. He gets a guitar solo towards the end that is really great, does some stop and go leads and gets the audience chanting along and for a man of 61 years, plays like he’s half that. A great end to the main set.

The band take a breather while the crowd cheer for more, the crowd near the taper conversate but seem like they are in a great mood. Angus again breaks their silence and hits them with the opening riff of Highway To Hell, the audience is pleased and loudly sing the chorus’. The band go real deep for the 1977 classic Riff Raff, not played live since when 1996? Frickin sounds great to hear this song again live, some ferocious boogie rock at its best. The concert ends with the obligatory For Those About To Rock. Some say adversity brings out the best in you, I would have to say that it has certainly interjected some life in this band, to me the band sounds…inspired. Cliff Williams has announced he is retiring at tours end so Angus will have some serious choices to make on AC/DC’s future.

The packaging is nice, full color inserts with pictures from the concert and the CDs have pictures on them, the new norm, all housed in a slim line jewel case, based upon the artwork this release is limited to 300 copies. A nice release, great sound and performance by the band and is certainly recommended for those looking for a title featuring this unique line up of AC/DC.

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