"Old Age" creeps up on us and slaps us across the face in a variety of ways. For most of us guys, the inevitable disintegration begins with large-scale change such as receding hairlines, burgeoning cellulite, and decreased libido. Suddenly, though, we begin to realize the metamorphosis manifesting itself in even smaller ways. (What is the deal with these hairs growing out of our ears!) But last evening at Scott Trade Center in downtown St. Louis, I realized that I'm not quite ready for my AARP card just yet.
My wife, raised on Chubby Checkers, Fats Domino, and Loretta Lynn, loves, for some unexplained reason, AC/DC. So, for her birthday last November, I gave her the gift of a private serenade by Brian Johnson, Angus Young and the rest of their mates...along with 19,000 of her closest friends. Last night was the scheduled show and by pure unbridled classic rock standards, it did not disappoint. This band is still all about fun, gratuitous sex, hot women, and drinking binges. (pretty much all the same things that led to the demise of former lead singer Bon Scott in 1980) Brian Johnson has a bit of the aforementioned "cellulite". The stage lighting easily bounced off the remains of Angus Young's ever-increasing receding hairline. And bassist Cliff Williams hair is the same length it was during the Back in Black days, although completely gray.
But this band still rocks...and they rock HARD!
Every AC/DC song is an anthem, and the anthems were in abundance last night. And the anthems were loud. Really loud. They opened with a cut from the new album Black Ice, and sprinkled a few here and there throughout the show. But the night belonged to birthday-girl Donna and to Jurassic-Rock old farts like me. It was really unnecessary for Brian Johnson to actually introduce any of the songs, as it is equally unnecessary for me to reel off a set list. You know what they played. As soon as Angus peeled off the opening chords, we knew it was time for "Hell's Bells" and "You Shook Me All Night Long". I had some issues with the other classic rock-head next to me who shouted "woooo" every 3 seconds, whether a song was in progress or not. But it was a blistering show, proof-positive that the monstrous rock-radio hits of the 70's and 80's still dominate iPods of 2009, as evidenced by 48-year-old fathers standing next to their 16-year-old sons...both in AC/DC shirts.
I was a bit worried about myself a few years back. The Who is my all-time favorite band and during the last Quadrophenia tour, I sensed "old age" from both myself and the band. Roger Daltrey sounded ragged and out-of-tune. Pete Townshend attempted a few lame windmill chords and the lyrics to "My Generation" seemed horribly out-of-place. I felt myself watching a kind of caricature moving along at half-speed playing out worn-out songs for me and 12,000 other caricatures in the audience. It was embarrassing, and I drove home a bit depressed.
AC/DC is not my favorite band. I like them, but I've always leaned more to the "cerebral" side of the world of rock, with groups like Genesis, Yes, Rush, and Pink Floyd. But, a catharsis can take place within the context of the most unexpected circumstances. Sometimes it takes someone's birthday to alert you that, perhaps, you're only as old as you feel. Sometimes it takes songs about women with questionable morals who are drunk on grain alcohol. And sometimes it just takes multiple stacks of Marshall amps and one plugged-in maroon Gibson SG guitar to clear the cobwebs and remind you that even guys with a few hairs growing out of their ears can still make a statement. Neil Young wrote it...."Rock 'n roll will never die". And AC/DC played it. Loudly.
...we salute you!
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