Sound — 7
This DVD is taken from footage of the Buenos Aires three-night stand in 2009 on the Black Ice Tour. Accompanied by the recently released CD/LP version (which contains all of the songs from the DVD), this is the first live release since Phil Rudd rejoined AC/DC, which may become a point of joy for fans. The tone of Angus and Malcolm (1959 Marshall SLP stacks with no pedals) is a welcome sound for the ears as is the stage presence of Angus, still abundant after nearly 40 years. Notable parts of this stadium stage include two bright red Angus hats on the top corners, a model of a train in the center, and a peninsula in the middle of the stage that Brian and Angus occasionally ran out on. Besides this, props would appear at selected parts of the set and play a major role on stage for that song. Overall, the band sounded fantastic, rarely missing a note, and Angus was spectacular with his guitar solos and stage presence. While some argue that all of their songs sound alike, I argue that they all get you jumping and moving at the same rate and that Angus's solos are just as heart pounding each time, even if he is occasionally sloppy. The band seemed well rehearsed, which I expected, and everything seemed to go right except that Brian isn't quite the monster that he used to be. While this DVD isn't as good as past AC/DC releases, it still packs a punch. A summary from each song, in order, follows: 01. "Rock And Roll Train" - On the opening song of the DVD, Angus jumps out in his trademark schoolboy outfit. This tour, his hat, tie, and jacket look suede blue. AC/DC seems well rehearsed on the first song off their most recent album, "Black Ice". 02. "Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be" - Angus and gang really get going on the first classic of the night. The whole band is noticeably more active on this song than on "Rock And Roll Train". 03. "Back In Black" - As Angus plays the opening riff, the Argentine crowd sings it. I've never seen a crowd sing this riff before, adding to my belief that this is one of the most energetic crowds I have ever seen. Phil sticks in his first cigarette of the night as Angus does his duck walk to this iconic guitar solo. 04. "Big Jack" - This is the second song of the night from the new album. For some reason, the impression that I get from this song is that it is well rehearsed and it sticks to the script of the album version. The weird part is that it doesn't seem any different on any of the other songs, it just sticks out here. 05. "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" - This song ignites a unique crowd reaction. A young person lit a bright, red, sparking flare and was waving it in the ocean of a crowd. It's not the smartest thing I've ever seen but once again, this crowd gets an award for energy. For the line, "You've got a woman and you want her gone, but you ain't got the guts," Angus puts his voice into the mic, receiving cheers from the crowd as this is the first time I and probably they had ever heard his voice. 06. "Shot Down In Flames" - This song isn't very notable. The only things I noticed were that Angus duck-walked more of his guitar solo than usual and at the end of the song, he had an interesting movement where he used short little steps that looked like he was walking on hot flames. 07. "Thunderstruck" - This riff is my favorite AC/DC riff because it just gets the crowd bouncing so quickly and the "THUNDER" line is so powerful, even today. It's amazing to see a soccer/football crowd bounce in unison the way they did. So far, Angus seems to be moving more on this song than the others. 08. "Black Ice" - The feel on this song is less party rock, and more of a groovy feel. The tightness with which AC/DC played the main riff made it seem more or less like a groove more than a riff. Accordingly, the crowd didn't appear nearly as crazy on this song as on others. 09. "The Jack" - There's a cool little interplay between Angus and Brian at the beginning of the song where Angus taps with a pick. While this isn't unheard of, it's the first and only time of the night that Angus did it. This song impressed me because of the dynamics necessary. It is unlike most other AC/DC songs in that it is relatively quiet, and we all know that it's harder to nail a lower volume song than a higher volume one. On this DVD, AC/DC had perfectly executed this ten-minute thriller. 10. "Hells Bells" - Brian swung from the rope of Hell's bell before dropping back down onto the stage. From what I can tell, this bell is real, producing the actual bong that I hear in my house, which is noticeably different from the bell in the original recording. This is also Angus's first song without his shirt on. Sadly, Angus doesn't look as sweaty as he usually does. This is doubly unfortunate because I was looking forward to seeing his buckets of sweat in HD. 11. "Shoot To Thrill" - Continuing with the next song off "Back In Black", I'm starting to notice that Brian can't hit all of the notes that he used to. That being said, he still has more of his pitch than most of the other 60-year-old singers that are still around today. Angus still holds all of the soloing taste that he had some 40 years ago. At this point, I'm also noticing how fun a time Malcolm and Cliff are having. I also just noticed that Malcolm is missing his middle and rhythm pickups. To the UG community, has his guitar always been like this? I've just never really focused on his guitar before. 12. "War Machine" - This version of the song was severely insignificant. While the whole crowd seemed to be into it, I thought that there was less energy on this song than on others. Besides the energy factor, Brian's vocals were weak as well as Angus's leads, which didn't seem as powerful as on the album. 13. "Dog Eat Dog" - AC/DC regained the steam it lost on "War Machine". There is a large regain of energy on this song and I honestly thought that this was one of Angus's stronger songs of the night in terms of movement and overall performance. 14. "You Shook Me All Night Long" - The opening riff of this tune earns a distinction for being one of the few that the crowd sings along to. This song, the closest to a ballad that that AC/DC would get on this DVD, is performed in a more laid back attitude by all except Brian, who still continued his act of parading up and down the stage peninsula in the middle, attempting to get fans to bounce and have fun. 15. "T.N.T." - The train at the back of the stage is shooting off fire right now, the first pyrotechnics of the night that I have seen. Angus's emphatic oi resonates with me as much as it does with the rest of the crowd who fist pumps along with it. At the end, it's nice to see that Angus still knows what explode means and he does a great job pulling it off. This is their best song of the night so far. 16. "Whole Lotta Rosie" - Next is my favorite AC/DC song. At the beginning, there is the traditional riff then "Angus!" answer. The giant Rosie balloon is the least striking thing about this monster song. I know this may seem like child's play, but this is the first time in this show that I have seen Angus use pinch harmonics. 17. "Let There Be Rock" - This fast paced thriller from the Bon Scott era was actually played slightly too fast in my opinion. Besides this, "Let There Be Rock" was very exciting, sending Angus into a frenzy for most of the song, even doing a reverse duck walk. He also took his hands off his guitar multiple times to make gestures to the crowd that were much more interesting than this sentence. I think this song may have been the first time that Angus went all the way to the end of the peninsula in the middle of the stage. 18. "Highway To Hell" - The crowd sings along to this iconic riff as Angus rises from below the stage in a cloud of smoke, signaling the first encore song. Angus is wearing his traditional red horns, matching the crowd's souvenir models. 19. "For Those About To Rock" - The spotlight is on Angus. Marching in place as the cannons roll up, he seems to be starting a procession to leave the stage, which just shows how intense the song actually is. The cannons fire one after the other, each bringing the show slightly closer to its conclusion. When at an AC/DC concert, one believes the show will never conclude until they hear this mammoth of a closer.
Content — 8
As to the song list, I was satisfied with the Brian Johnson material though I wish that they played "Wheels" from the new album to "Black Ice", the title track. I wish that some of the Bon Scott era songs were replaced with others. For example, there was no "High Voltage" and I thought that "Dog Eat Dog" could've easily been replaced with "Bad Boy Boogie". This fairly straightforward DVD doesn't have many surprises, making it straight AC/DC live album that was probably only put on DVD because of the way times have changed. 01. Rock 'N' Roll Train 02. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be 03. Back in Black 04. Big Jack 05. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 06. Shot Down In Flames 07. Thunderstruck 08. Black Ice 09. The Jack 10. Hells Bells 11. Shoot To Thrill 12. War Machine 13. Dog Eat Dog 14. You Shook Me All Night Long 15. T.N.T. 16. Whole Lotta Rosie 17. Let There Be Rock 18. Highway To Hell 19. For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)
Production Quality — 8
Production-wise, I thought that the sound was mixed well and the cameras made use of a huge advantage; the crowd. The cameras seem to split time between AC/DC and the fanatical crowd. As I said, this was a smart move since the crowd of at least 100,000 was always moving, an amazing sight to see. The screen also seemed to be split between two screens much of the time. This age-old effect gives more accessibility to the performance, allowing the viewer to watch more than one angle at once. However, theatrically I think this is more of a blunder, becoming somewhat bland and boring after a while, a real step down from concerts released now, like Led Zeppelin's "Celebration Day". Otherwise, I thought that there was no way to fault the DVD on production, so it deserves a high rating because the problems that I mentioned probably don't mean that much in the grand scheme of the DVD.
Overall Impression — 7
Even almost 40 years after their founding, AC/DC can still bring the high-octane performance that they are known for. While age is starting to dawn on them, it is effects more their looks (Angus is balding, Brian getting wrinkles) than performance. Angus still runs all over the stage and Malcolm and Cliff remain as still as ever. By the way, Malcolm is so skinny that he looks almost like a zombie. It's just unique. While this DVD isn't as great as the spectacular performance at Donnington, it is certainly a DVD worth watching. If anything, the songs from their new album, "Black Ice", provide an interesting contrast from previous DVD's and live albums. For me, watching this gave me a rush throughout and the whole thing has the AC/DC party atmosphere that nobody else can beat. My favorite part of the whole thing is the electric Buenos Aires crowd, which deserves a lot of credit for this DVD. Again, compared to other AC/DC DVD's, this one isn't quite as potent. Nevertheless, on the total spectrum of rock DVD's this one sure is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I've never been able to see AC/DC live in person, but this DVD has renewed my vigor to go, since they haven't lost that much steam since their heyday.