When Axl Rose was rumored to be auditioning for AC/DC earlier this year, I thought it was the most insane thing I had ever heard before. Then it became a reality and I ate my own words. Social media thought this was destined to be a train wreck, but then the world witnessed the first show and the critics were silenced. Fast forward to last week, I was lucky enough to witness this, for lack of a better phrase, “not in this life time” moment, first hand.
I saw AC/DC earlier this year in San Francisco with Brian Johnson and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in my life. What in the hell is this going to be like with Axl? Being one of my favorite singers of all time, I was expecting something very cool but also admittedly came in biased. What I got, was the second best show I’ve seen this year, actually, one of the best I’ve seen in the past decade.
From the very first note of the blistering opener “Rock or Bust” it was apparent that Angus and company had taken an intelligent risk that would pay off tremendously. Axl hit every note absolutely flawlessly. He wasn’t mimicking Johnson, but instead brilliantly paying tribute to the original while maintaining his signature “fuck off” snarl.
Up next was a rip off your fucking head version of “Shoot to Thrill” that upped the ante a bit, but Axl delivered again. The guy sitting next to me, marketing mogul and heavy metal comrad Mitch Joel, kept turning to me and saying, “Can you fucking believe how great his voice is?” And Mitch is no easy critic to please. Then the question become, would it hold up. The answer……
was a resounding hell yes! The rest of the set included all the classics you know and love from the Bon Scott classic up to cuts from the last two records. No AC/DC stone was left unturned. This was indeed a show for the ages, and even up to the last note of the night for “Whole Lotta Rosie”, and “Highway to Hell”, Axl’s voice was stronger and stronger. He mentioned earlier in the set that he was just getting warmed up, and he’s wasn’t kidding. The vocals at the end of the set were absolutely stellar.
There was moment during the set when Axl hear a few boos in the crowd to which he owned up to immediately by telling the band, “It’s not you, it’s me”. It was to be expected from the folks who can’t accept change, or maybe were just Brian Johnson fans overall. But that’s when Axl surprised even me. He took the criticism and then gave every once of his energy to prove that he was there for a reason. After that moment he fucking owned that arena, and by the end of the show there were no more boos, just cheers that could have blown the roof off of that place. Well done Axl….well done.
AC/DC is one band that every music fan on earth should see at least one time in their lives. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them three times and they NEVER fail to deliver the goods. For the haters who can’t get past Axl as the singer, you’re missing out, for everyone else who’s on the rock n roll train, this is as rewarding of a show as you will ever see. I think Angus could go for another 10.
Check out more shots from the show in the gallery here.