AC/DC Plugs Into Primitivism
THE TWO men preaching with bullhorn and banner to the fans streaming from the Long Beach Arena Monday night added such a ludicrously perfect final touch to AC/DC’s performance that it might have been a publicity stunt engineered by Atlantic Records. Ironically, the Australian quintet’s hour-long set was built around the idea of elevating the rock star to the position of a religious deity.
AC/DC’s candidate for the rock Valhalla is Angus Young. Clad in his schoolboy uniform, he plays to the hilt the twin roles of traditional guitar hero and bratty problem-child. His hyperkinetic, wildman antics — ranging from innumerable bastardized duck-walks to being carried through the crowd amid a phalanx of security men — kept most of the fans in the scaled-down arena on their feet throughout much of the performance.
It was strictly a one-man show, with the other members simply doing their job and staying out of Angus’ way. Lead singer Bon Scott’s stage presence was minimal and the three rhythm players contented themselves with churning out the riffs and furiously bobbing their heads in mechanical unison.
AC/DC operates on the musical principle that the best way to an audience’s heart is to hammer it into submission with a collection of hoary, heavy-rock clichés. Concepts like subtlety, refinement and dynamics don’t exist in its musical dictionary, and Monday the band never deviated from its bludgeoning attack.
All the songs are built around short, choppy guitar riffs supported by a throbbing, elementary rhythm and topped by Scott’s hoarse screeching and macho breast-beating. AC/DC’s dedication to the primeval stomp sustained my interest for about 20 minutes, but the utter lack of variety and Angus’ increasingly excessive guitar solos ultimately registered as boring in the extreme.
Prism opened the show with a set of more complex but still nondescript hard rock.
© Don Snowden, Los Angeles Times, 12 September 1979