Monday, May 9, 2016


“I got patches, on the patches, of my old blues band,
Well they used to be blues, when they were abused,
When they were unclean…..

Oh, it ain’t no fun, now they’re all millionaires,
No it ain’t no fun, I don’t care what they say,
Now they’re all fucking millionaires….”

Louie - AC/DC fan - 229 AC/DC shows seen

If you are a hard core AC/DC fan, saw 20+ AC/DC shows and/or you are going through an identity crisis following AC/DC’s hiring of Axl Rose, please stop reading this post now. Your crisis might get worse.


Rock’n Roll Damnation

You know it. For us it all started at Hammersmith, London on 23 October 2003. AC/DC played a one night only gig at the Odeon Theatre for only 5,000 fans. It was there that we felt the rock’n’roll essence of AC/DC. A pub band, simple and straightforward, who could play the most powerful live rockn’roll show in the world, anywhere, in a small theater as well as in a stadium.

That was the beginning of our Rock'n’Roll Damnation…Each hard core AC/DC fan remembers the beginning of his R'n'R Damnation.

Almost 13 years later, on 7 May 2016 after seeing over 80 AC/DC shows around the world, always chasing and trying to feel that rock’n’roll again, we ended up hearing Rock’n’Roll Damnation live one more time. But it wasn’t Brian Johnson singing. Instead Axl Rose was on stage, sitting on a chair, singing the lyrics of this great song with Angus playing next to him, Chris Slade on the drums, Stevie Young on rhythm guitar... Back to the Future.

“Life is a bitch"

- Alan aka The Rock’n’Roll Nonno

We met Alan, the Rock’n’Roll Nonno, companion of many of our trips around the world during the Black Ice tour, at the AC/DC's rehearsals on Friday. He has seen over 140 AC/DC shows. Rock’n’Roll Nonno was stoic, a bit melancholic, but optimistic as usual. “Remember Matteo, you support the team, not the players”.

“Did you just say Guns’n’ROLEX, Angus? I kinda like it!” 
Axl Rose on BBC 6 May 2016

It must have been a nightmare for Angus Young. Having to look for a guest vocalist to replace Brian and avoid the “legal entanglements” and make happy the 700,000 European fans who bought tickets to see AC/DC in Summer. In just a few weeks.

The only possible solution to complete the tour seemed to be Axl Rose, volunteering for the cause of rock’n’roll. Or for personal/professional validation. Or maybe just for the money.


Let’s stick to the report.


    Rock or Bust
    Shoot to Thrill
    Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be
    Back in Black
    Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder
    Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
    Rock 'n' Roll Damnation 
    High Voltage
    Rock 'n' Roll Train
    Hells Bells
    Given the Dog a Bone
    Sin City
    You Shook Me All Night Long
    Shot Down in Flames
    Have a Drink on Me
    Whole Lotta Rosie
    Let There Be Rock 


    Highway to Hell
    Riff Raff 
    For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

(Stormy May Day) 

Yesterday we were at Passeo de Alges, near Lisbon, to witness the historic first concert of AC/DC with guest singer Axl Rose, from Guns’n’Rolex.

It is difficult to write a fans concert report of AC/DC with Axl Rose after seeing so many concerts with Brian. We have mixed feelings and they will not go away anytime soon. We are partial to Brian, and prejudiced against Axl Rose. We already explained that. We feel angry and frustrated.

It rained heavily for entire day in Lisbon but it stopped just a few minutes before 9, just in time for the "moment of truth".

Rock'n'Roll Chair

The Portuguese audience is there for AC/DC, apparently younger than usual. It’s cold and windy. And there are puddles everywhere.

The show kicks off at 9.15pm. Usual intro video. Pyro. Angus comes on stage wearing the Portuguese flag colors (green cap/tie, red suit). Axl Rose walks to his position. The “baroque” Dave Grohl’s throne is gone and it’s replaced by a more simple dentist chair.

Rock or Bust is still the first song in the setlist. Angus is energetic as usual, but he looks a bit “lost” when going back and forth, towards the chair, around the chair, next to the chair. The familiar moves on stage with Brian are all gone.

Axl’s powerful voice is at its best. In tune. Perfect, some might say. With his foot injury he doesn’t need to run anymore to entertain the audience so all drops of energy can be channeled into his powerful high pitch screaming.

Shoot To Thrill is faster than usual. Maybe too fast. Axl appears super focused and professional. He snake-dances a little bit on the chair while Angus heads towards the chair like a torpedo.

“It turned into a nice sunny day. Nice to meet you”.

Hell Ain’t Bad a Place to Be and then one of the most iconic Brian Johnson’s era song: Back in Black. Axl does a good job, although it’s almost impossible for us to accept that this song can be sung by someone other than Brian.

Got Rock’n’Roll Thunder then “a business song”, as Axl puts it. It’s Dirty Dees Done Dirt Cheap. Some doubts on Angus’ solo just before the “but you ain’t got the guts” which is now sang by Axl instead of Angus.

The gem of the night, Rock’n’Roll Damnation is introduced with an anecdote by Axl about the record company asking AC/DC to play it for the first time using a plane during an AC/DC concert… (apparently told by Angus to him). Storytelling aside, we enjoyed the song.

Thunderstruck was OK. High Voltage, on the contrary, was a flop. At least to our taste. It cannot even be compared to the intensity and the power of Brian’s version, especially during the last tour, starting from Arnhem, when Brian was on fire, jumping, screaming and playing with the audience. The part with the interaction with the audience was pretty flat and boring. 

Rock’n’Roll Train should be taken out of the setlist immediately. We didn’t like at all the way Axl sang it. We really hope it will be replaced with Touch Too Much or Gimme a Bullet! They rehearsed them, they should play them.

Although the center of the attention was the sitting guest singer, Stevie and Cliff seemed to be giving a stronger and more solid contribution to the background vocals. Stevie, beside that, looks like he’s into Malcolm’s character more than ever. Even his moves and looks seem to reflect more and more those of his uncle. Very good stuff.

Hell’s Bells, another “proprietary” song by Brian, was “abused” by Axl. No offense to Axl, he sounded great, but for fans like us it’s just too painful to witness this "rape"… Anyway, the notes were hit, the mainstream audience was happy, Brian’s hard core fans got even more depressed. The bell tolled a bit more sadly than usual in Lisbon...

We heard Given the Dog A Bone for the first time and we liked it a lot. Powerful song, much better than Dog Eat Dog, which was rehearsed the day before. It should stay in the set so that Dog Eat Dog can stay out. At the end Axl tells some of his admirers from the first row to stop chanting Axl Axl Axl, and chant Angus, Angus Angus… We saw girls sending kisses to Axl... Disgusting...

Sin City. The “musical experts” who claim the vocal superiority of Axl over Brian say it was sung better. We don’t know as we are not expert and we think that in Rock’n’Roll there is more than vocal perfection. In fact since Coachella 2015, we learned to love Brian’s version. Same goes for Have a Drink on Me. Maybe this one should be dropped too out of respect for Brian.

You Shook Me All Night Long, another Brian Jonhson’s song… :(

Shot Down in Flames AKA “the Story of my life” as put it by Axl Rose. TNT. Whole Lotta Rosie (we already digested Axl’s version thanks to the youtube videos)

On the other hand, Let There Be Rock, was a pleasant surprise as we found it suitable for Axl’s voice. The mega scream after “And the singer turned and he said to the crowd. Let there be Roooooooooock” was unbelievably powerful. Nice. For the rest of the song Angus took over completely and gave us another lesson of rock’n’roll mastery, while Axl went somewhere backstage for the whole duration of the solo.

Highway to Hell, another punch in the stomach. Then, Riff Raff, the “surprise” of the night. Very powerful.

For Those About to Rock, another classic from the Brian’s era…

The show is over… Axl thanks the audience next to his chair. He walks backstage. The audience is happy chanting the usual "Olè, Olè, Olè. Olè, Olè"

Bottom Line

We are a bit disappointed because our expectations were not met. There should have been more changes in the setlist, to begin with. In general, except for High Voltage, we think it would be more suitable to stick to Bon’s material and leave out Brian’s songs as much as possible, to avoid any “karaoke feelings”.

Also, there was almost no chemistry between Angus and Axl (well the poor guy is confined to a "hospital/dentist chair". What can we expect?). Oh yes, the chair, a total disaster. Having the lead singer of a band like AC/DC, with the most energetic songs and the most hyperactive guitarist in the history of rock’n’roll sitting down during a live concert is a real contradiction in terms. We know it’s Force Majeure, but to us, it ruins the whole experience. We really hated this and we hope he can stand up soon (and run from left to the right of the stage like during Use Your Illusion tour. Oh yeah!)

The way Axl speaks to the audience. The “Angus Angus Angus” cheerleading was pretty lame too honestly. Also the change of sunglasses makes us feel there might some wardrobe changing too in the future...

Bright side

They taught us that if you want to be successful in life you always have to be optimistic and positive. Then let’s say that yesterday’s concert was a success. Not a triumph, but a success. At least no bottle was thrown on stage (and we hope that no bottle will be thrown on stage during the tour).

Truth of the matter, despite everything, we still got AC/DC. We still got Angus and his duckwalk. We still got the Hell’s Bell, the thunders, the fireworks and the flashing devil’s horns. We got our vacation from work, our cheap Ryanair flights, hotels, warm up parties, and beers. We got Riff Raff and R'nR' Damnation. It's a good, it's just the first concert after all. Things will be better soon!

Dark Side

We don’t have Brian. And probably we will never have him back. This is painful for us. But maybe  only 5-10% of all the tour ticket holders care about this. 90-95% don’t, and Angus/AC/DC knows it. And we don’t blame him for this choice. AC/DC is a corporation and has also corporate responsibility, towards his employees and contractors as well as towards its clients/customers (i.e. the promoters and the fans). We don’t blame AC/DC for this. Seriously, we don’t. Why should we?

We have Axl. A motivated professional with an exceptional CV (at least until 1994) who is “willing to help”, with the perfect pipes for AC/DC. He is now behaving professionally and he is always on time. And It will get better and better, show after show.

The End

After Lisbon we got the impression that it's getting closer. Ironically, some fans say from the 70's say they should have stopped at Hammersmith in 2003. Black Ice was just an encore. Rock or Bust, totally unnecessary... We don't believe that and we are grateful to Angus for this tour. We will "stick around" till the end anyway, when time arrives.

See you in Seville!

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