red lights

Electric Overload

AC/DC / Slash's Snakepit
Bradley Center
Aug. 30, 2000

Brian Johnson and Angus Young get dirty!

Brian Johnson goes vocal.

Story and Photos by Phil Bonyata

When some people discover a successful formula they find it necessary to stick with it for life. The fear of tampering with something that isn't broken is great. In almost all cases change is a natural step in the evolution of art and music.
There are exceptions to this rule.
Angus Young AC/DC hasn't changed at all in their 30 years existence. Their music is one loud and infectious guitar explosion overlaid with rhythmic power chords. Lead guitarist and the soul of AC/DC, Angus Young is still stuck in the fifth grade wearing his same schoolboy uniform and shorts that he's worn since day one. His mom forgot to tell him that styles change.
Angus and company turned The Bradley Center into their personal playground last night. The band, from Australia, opened with the vinegar laced "You Shook Me All Night Long." Malcolm Young infused jet bursts of rhythm to help anchor his brother's often wild guitar rampages. On "Stiff Upper Lip," from their new album "Stiff Upper Lip" lead singer Brian Johnson, who looks and acts like a self-conscious Joe Cocker, had his eyes bulge out so far on the high notes that Marty Feldman would have been envious.
Johnson, who replaced original party animal, Bon Scott, who incidentally died from alcohol abuse 20 years ago, was chosen more for his raspy and shrill voice than his stage persona or songwriting ability. On "Hell's Bells" Johnson clumsily ran down the runway to a large bell that was descending from the rafters. Johnson is no Tarzan. After climbing the rope he pointlessly hung there for a few seconds and then he jumped off. That was it. The sweat-drenched Angus Young got into the act with a 8 minute striptease that only resulted in him finally taking off his shorts to reveal - a pair of stars and stripes boxer shorts. It was a total waste of time.
AC/DC should concentrate on their kick butt music and give up on some of their gratuitous theatrics.
Slash Other hard rockin' standouts like the crunchy "Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)," the sing-along classic "The Jack," the monster anthem "Back in Black" and the bombastic "TNT" had the audience feeling the lethal injections of Angus' speed rampages race straight through their pounding hearts.
AC/DC is all about straight ahead, in your face music coupled with their often sophomoric and usually very clever lyrics. Apparently AC/DC, might be an exception to the rule of change. When they stay the same they only sound better.
Ex Guns 'N' Roses axe man Slash and his new band Snakepit gave the Bradley Center something to ponder. Was Axl Rose that great?
New singer Rod Jackson has got something Brian Johnson doesn't have - a stage presence. His theater was vintage Jim Morrison. Who cares that he took from the master. His retelling was so sweet.
Slash's mastery of his Les Paul is supreme. He can produce the most subtle notes and transcend into heavy ear splitting charges on the drop of a dime. The weakest moment of their rather short set was the splotchy rendition of Guns 'N' Roses "Mr. Brownstone." With some better songwriting, it's still a little generic, and allow Jackson to blossom even further and we might have the start of a very good rock n' roll band.

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