Rockin' out to AC/DC in Tacoma.
Guitarist Angus Young is halfway through "The Jack", a song Brian Johnson, whose gravel-tossed voice you know so well


AC/DC: Shaking Us All Night Long in the Tacoma Dome

Rockin' out to AC/DC in Tacoma.
Guitarist Angus Young is halfway through "The Jack", a song Brian Johnson, whose gravel-tossed voice you know so well and whose words you can never understand, introduced as "a song about a dirty, dirty woman."

Young looks like a heaving Gollum. His eyes bulge. His stringy hair (much thinner on top these days) drips sweat onto his shoulders. He lost the trademark hat somewhere between "Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap" and "Thunderstruck". His lips pop open and closed like a fish gasping for air. But somehow, instead of pathetic, the effect is one of total lasciviousness. He curls his lips into a grin and nods at the audience.

For the first and only time tonight, Young gets a break from the guitar solos that have made him and his AC/DC bandmates still capable of selling out an arena as they approach the age of coffee discounts at McDonald's.

"Wooo!" screams the audience as Young sets down the guitar and walks to center stage, a burlesque, ba BUM beat accompanying him. He spins around and flip! Off comes the blazer.

"Wooooooo!" the people reply, clapping and pounding on the seats. Next comes the tie and he lifts his shirt above his midriff (you gotta give him credit, it might not be washboard, but it's toned.)

"WOOOOOO!" the crowd encourages him. He turns around and unbuttons, spinning back to give us a full frontal view of his chest, glistening from sweat. Then he goes for his shorts.

"Uh, wooo?"

Young drops trou to reveal boxers with AC/DC emblazoned across the butt before cinching the shorts back up. The rest stays off, it probably needs to. He's not even half-way through a two-hour set and already his physical appearance suggests a heart attack is imminent. But his playing never suffers.

There are three reasons AC/DC gets to have a 54-year-old guitarist take his clothes off on a runway in the middle of a sold-out arena.

Meet Collin Guyor. At 12, this is his second AC/DC concert. He's such a fan, he named his dog Angus. "That's what came out of my mouth," he explains. "And I thought, what a cool name."

First, they've earned it. Every successful arena band has a song thousands of people will pay top dollar to see them perform live: Metallica has "Unforgiven", Guns 'n Roses rocks "Sweet Child O' Mine", and no one wants to see Bon Jovi without being treated to "Livin' On A Prayer". But with AC/DC, every other song on the set list is "the song you came here to see."

The tour that brought them to the Tacoma Dome last night is technically to promote last year's "Black Ice", the band's first studio album in almost a decade. And they did open with a pounding rendition of the first track "Rock 'n Roll Train", complete with an unsubtle animated sequence where we learn just how phallic that train brake really is. The less well-known "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be" followed and the crowd remained largely unstirred.

But AC/DC knows how to play to their audience. Up third, to deafening screams and hands with devil horns thrust into the air, Johnson belted out "Back in Black" along with every other person in the Dome. From there on out, no more than a song or two separated the crowd pleasers; "Dirty Deeds" and "Thunderstruck" came up in short order.

Kevin Nelson of Puyallup models the "Angus Young." There were a lot of these roaming Tacoma last night.
Second: They're not too insufferably sincere about what they do to be fun. Much as it's hard for an Idaho-born headbanger like myself to admit, Metallica can be obnoxiously hoity-toity about their music in interviews. AC/DC plays big numbers with shouted choruses on a stage wired with pyrotechnics and giant blow-up dolls. This is all theatrics and if they want to include a little light nudity, who are we to stop it? Sure everyone was a little freaked out at the prospect of Young going Full Monty on us, but you can bet it would have been ear-splitting cheering even if he did.

And finally: Young has to take his clothes off. He'll overheat and die otherwise and then who would thrill us with a raucous guitar solo traveling from a lifted platform in the center of the floor to a small bridge across the back jumbo screen, ending in what can only be described as writhing ecstasy across the stage itself. There's a reason old-timers like Three Dog Night and Steppenwolf are on the marquee at the nearby Emerald Queen Casino--it's easier. AC/DC still makes full use of the space granted by doing an arena show, cruising back and forth across a runway through the middle of the floor, leaping onto giant bells (guess which song that was for), and generally just keeping up unbelievable energy for an entire two-hour set. Hell, these guys never even wrote themselves a power ballad break in the action. If they need to take their clothes off to keep it going, then I say clothes on stage, optional.

Nobody is breaking new ground here. We're pumping our fists and screaming "Na na na NA na na NA na na THUN-DER!" And what self-respecting AC/DC fan would have it any other way?

Set list:

Rock 'n Roll Train

Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be

Back in Black

Big Jack

Dirty Deeds

Shot Down in Flames


Black Ice

The Jack

Hells Bells

Shoot to Thrill

War Machine

Dog Eat Dog

Anything Goes

You Shook Me All Night Long


Whole Lotta Rosie

Let There Be Rock

Encore (after what couldn't have been more than two minutes):

Highway to Hell

For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

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