No one comes to an AC/DC concert for nuance.
You come to be bludgeoned.
You come to be pummeled.
You come to throw devil horns, slurp beer and headbang to loud, dirty guitars.
You come to an AC/DC concert, in other words, to rock.
And that is precisely what the Australian hard rock icons facilitated for a sold-out American Airlines Center crowd Tuesday over the course of two hours.
This stop on AC/DC’s ongoing “Rock or Bust” tour was the band’s first DFW date in seven years and its first without founding member Malcolm Young, who left the band in 2014 because of advancing dementia.
The rest of AC/DC — singer Brian Johnson, with his scorched yowl; eternal schoolboy Angus Young, duck-walking and doling out iconic guitar riffs; drummer Chris Slade, taking over for troubled timekeeper Phil Rudd; guitarist Stevie Young, stepping in for his uncle Malcolm and bassist Cliff Williams — is remarkably intact, steaming ahead into the band’s fourth decade.
Tuesday’s performance was as stacked as the Marshall amps surrounding the band on its massive, glitzy stage — video screens behind and around them, with smoke and sparks making cameos, and a long runway stretching deep into the jam-packed floor — with scarcely any time to catch your breath between songs. (Although the occasional time-out might’ve been a good idea: Angus Young often seemed on the verge of collapse, and Johnson was clinging to TelePrompTers situated at the foot of the stage for dear lyrical life all night.)
Reeling from Shoot to Thrill to Back in Black to Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap to Hells Bells to You Shook Me All Night Long, AC/DC functions like a freight train, gaining momentum and mowing down anything in its path.
Few bands who make rock music in the 21st century seem to embody the literal physical characteristics of that word — rock, with its connotations of solidity, permanence and endurance — as effortlessly AC/DC does.
They play songs that seem to have always been there — the ominous stomp of Thunderstruck feels timeless — and forge something lasting out of the primal, the sinister and the irresistible. A young boy of no more than 10, attending with his parents, stood to my right throughout the entire show, enthralled by the spectacle — loud guitars, suggestive lyrics and pyro will never not captivate young men.
In that moment, it was possible to glimpse how AC/DC has lasted and will continue to endure, long after its members have retired from the spotlight.
Music like this — full of volume and attitude, delivered with the sort of flair allowing for a guitar solo to be performed with a necktie — is ageless, a jolting current incapable of subtlety.
It is hardwired into our DNA, and passes from one generation to the next, forsaking nuance for the raw immediacy of right now.