- The Washington Times - Monday, September 19, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC — Music fans wondering what it would be like to stand in front of a running jet engine for over two hours found out Saturday night when AC/DC stopped by the Verizon Center.

On the second-to-last stop of its world tour, the blues-infected, hard-rock legend enlisted the crooning help of some guy named Axl Rose and offered a loud, quintessential overview of the band’s over 40-year-long musical history.

Guitar maestro Angus Young, 61, still wearing his classic blue school boy uniform, shorts, tie and chapeau, started the aural assault by strolling on stage and playing the opening power chords to the lead song of the band’s latest and 15th studio album “Rock or Bust.”

It was the beginning of a ear-ringing thrill ride causing the sold-out crowd to roar with approval, fist pump and move heads perpendicularly up and down in unison while a red-horns accessory blinked from atop many of their noggins.

Throughout the nearly non-stop, 24-song set, which included a three-song encore, few words were spoken by the group, who instead focused on delivering a stuffed hit parade.

In fact, a quarter of the tunes played were from AC/DC’s 1980 “Back in Black” album, the second-highest selling album in the history of musical recordings, and featured “Shoot to Thrill,” “Hells Bells,” “Give the Dog a Bone” and the title track, of course.

PHOTOS: AC/DC and Axl Rose at the Verizon Center

Although the growl of singer Brian Johnson (on hiatus due to hearing health issues, go figure) was sorely missed, Mr. Rose perfectly carried on while taking a break from Guns ‘N Roses.

He looked like a grunge cowboy, complete with boots, Western-style hat, ripped jeans and a T-shirt with Jim Morrison police mugshot on it. Mr. Rose lurked, pranced and stalked around the stage but often hit higher, in key screams, than his predecessor with a pinch of characteristic vibrato thrown in for good measure.

His enthusiasm and dead-on deliveries of classics such as “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Shot Down in Flames” was appreciated as well as his deferential treatment to Mr. Young, giving him the spotlight nearly all the time.

With only a few quips such as “AC is in DC,” between tunes, he focused on singing and brought the vintage “Whole Lotta Rosie” to new heights and offered a particularly potent “Thunderstruck” with a youthful gusto.

And, when fitting, Mr. Rose often stood nearer the back of the stage and admired Mr. Young’s lead guitarist’s magic.

And, with good reason, as his greatest vocal moments were easily eclipsed by Mr. Young’s energy and musical proficiency all night.

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In near-constant motion, the guitar wizard duck-walked and ran across the stage and a runway, used his tie at one point as a slide on the guitar neck and even gave his best Curly Howard, dropping to the floor and spinning around like a top, while never missing a note.

It’s worth mentioning that it has been a rough couple of years for AC/DC. Besides Mr. Johnson’s departure, drummer Phil Rudd left due to drug activity and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young (Angus’ brother) fell into the throes of dementia while bassist Cliff Williams expressed he may retire after the tour.

Nevertheless, Mr. Williams and the support musicians of Mr. Young’s nephew Stevie Young on rhythm guitar and veteran, 69-year old thumper Chris Slade rose to the occasion, delivering a pulverizing, Cro-Magnon style attack while the tag team duo of Mr. Rose and Mr. Young chewed up the sonic scenery.

“Let There Be Rock” closed the show’s core set and was topped off by a no-less-than-15-minute, fairly excessive guitar solo from Angus Young that threatened to wear out the audience but not the band.

After a brief respite, the boys came back out for “Highway to Hell,” with plenty of flames and Mr. Young rising out of the stage floor.

Next, the frantic “Riff Raff” and finally “For Those About to Rock,” finished the night complete with five canons rolled out over the walls of Marshal speakers that occasionally fired in rhythmic unison.

Suffice it to report, the audience was shook all night long in reverence to the masters of rock known as AC/DC.

In a fun note, before the band walked out, another younger, legend of rock and roll sat amidst the masses.

Nirvana and Foo Fighter’s own Dave Grohl was in attendance and was immediately overwhelmed with requests for selfies. He politely accommodated all fans before settling down to the music, head bopping in appreciation.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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