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AC/DC’s live show is a predictable good time

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ACDC performs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Friday Feb. 5, 2016.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Three and a half stars

AC/DC February 5, MGM Grand Garden Arena.

There are no surprises at an AC/DC concert, and that’s exactly how it should be. The band that has built its entire career on straightforward, reliable hard rock delivered a straightforward, reliable show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday, the second night of its current North American tour. The previous night, the band had performed “Given the Dog a Bone,” from 1980’s Back in Black, for the first time in 35 years, but by the Vegas stop it was just another part of the predetermined setlist.

“Bone” was one of six songs from the massive Back in Black that the band played, along with a parade of other classic hits (the set also included a couple of token songs from 2014 album Rock or Bust). “This next song we did 35 years ago; we never thought we’d be doing it today,” singer Brian Johnson said before the band launched into “Back in Black,” but the great thing about AC/DC is that the songs sound like the members absolutely did think they’d still be playing them decades later.

AC/DC at MGM Grand Garden Arena

AC/DC has gone through some rough times recently, with the departures of original rhythm guitarist and co-songwriter Malcolm Young (who’s been diagnosed with dementia) and longtime drummer Phil Rudd (who’s struggled with drugs and legal troubles). But replacements Stevie Young (nephew of Malcolm and lead guitarist Angus Young) on guitar and returning member Chris Slade on drums proved more than capable, providing a solid anchor alongside bassist Cliff Williams.

Williams and Stevie Young were so anchored that they barely moved throughout the show, but Johnson and Angus Young more than made up for their bandmates, strutting around the stage with the energy of musicians half their age. Angus Young stretched main-set closer “Let There Be Rock” to nearly 20 minutes with an extended guitar solo, which managed to keep most of the audience on its feet despite losing momentum long before wrapping up. Still, even bloated arena-rock indulgence generally works in AC/DC’s favor, and the show wrapped up with a strong encore of “Highway to Hell” and “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” complete with the requisite cannon blasts. Not surprisingly, the audience left satisfied.

Setlist:

“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”

“Thunderstruck”

“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”

“T.N.T.”

“Whole Lotta Rosie”

“Let There Be Rock”

Encore:

“Highway to Hell”

“For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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