AC/DC: LIVE AT RIVER PLATE (2012)
1) Intro; 2) Rock'n'Roll Train; 3) Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be; 4) Back In Black; 5) Big Jack; 6) Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap; 7) Shot Down In Flames; 8) Thunderstruck; 9) Black Ice; 10) The Jack; 11) Hells Bells; 12) Shoot To Thrill; 13) War Machine; 14) Dog Eat Dog; 15) You Shook Me All Night Long; 16) T.N.T.; 17) Whole Lotta Rosie; 18) Let There Be Rock; 19) Highway To Hell; 20) For Those About To Rock (We Salute You).
Throughout the later stages of their career, AC/DC have taken good care of ensuring a steady flow of live videos — beginning with 1992's «classic» Live At Donington — but it has been 20 years now since they last released a live audio album, and the reasons are obvious: since most AC/DC shows sound exactly the same way, the only proper way to «relive» an AC/DC show is through the appropriate picture. Basically, what good is a live Angus chord when unaccompanied by an Angus grimace? And how are we supposed to tolerate the irritating gurgling produced by Brian Johnson's larynx if we do not simultaneously get to watch him fist-pumping the air, in that ever-present working man wife-beater?
So the natural question is — why did they finally decide to combine the release of this live show, filmed and taped in December 2009 at a Buenos Aires stadium, with a 2-CD audio release? Can there be anything special about this performance? Are AC/DC finally, almost fourty years into their career, going to give us a big surprise? Yes, they are... with a seventeen-minute performance of ʽLet There Be Rockʼ. Bet you didn't see that one coming.
No, of course not. The only reason for the existence of Live At River Plate is to act as a reminder — it has now been thirty years since these guys came back in black to us, and they are still here, and they are still kicking the same old ass. To be honest, they do not kick it quite the same way — not so much age, as basic stage professionalism has set in, and even the wildest of the wildest of Angus' ecstatic outbursts seem more disciplined and «ingrained» than they used to be. But that is probably inevitable: the important thing is, the lads prove the point — not only do they not sound in the slightest like old relics, but, on the contrary, the old war machine is still well-oiled and running faster and tighter than ever. Plus, of course, all the technological benefits of modern production — guitars, drums, bass, vocals, everything sounds cleaner and more distinct than ever before. Nothing but the best for these guys — well, you'd probably have a right to nothing but the best, too, after spending fourty years in the business.
All of which, of course, guarantees one and exactly one listen to the album, upon which you may safely return it to your local library or collector's shelf. The fact that they decided to include recordings from one show only (actually, three nights were involved, but these are petty details) gives this better continuity and authenticity than the Live album from 1992, but also surmises the inavoidable — most of the songs are well-known crowd pleasers; in fact, 12 out of 19 songs overlap with Live, with 4 others played from the latest studio album — essentially, only the decision to bring back to life ʽShot Down In Flamesʼ and ʽDog Eat Dogʼ comes across as mildly surprising, and not particularly indicative of the whole atmosphere.
So what is there to comment upon? Brian Johnson's voice is in good form for his age, proving that the studio feats of Black Ice were not performed by a fake (but we trust the band on that one — if we stop trusting AC/DC, what else is there remaining in the world to trust?). The Young brothers remain reliable warhorses. The Argentinian audiences are enthusiastic to the core (after all, for most people in the world, AC/DC is the next best thing to soccer, and some don't even see the difference all that well). Angus does his striptease thing on ʽThe Jackʼ, which only works for the video — on the audio, the unsuspecting novice simply gets to wonder what the hell it is that makes the people go ga-ga as the band is simply pushing a melody-less 12-bar structure on them for ages. The new songs mesh in well with the old stuff (although I, for one, would love to hear ʽAnything Goesʼ for a change). The 17-minute jam on ʽLet There Be Rockʼ is overcooked beyond mercy, but at least most of it is set to the song's general frantic pace, so feel free to indulge your inner headbanger until the head finally falls off.
In short, the universe still stands, so, if anything, a two-hour long listen to Live At River Plate is simply a good remedy against the hidden menace of the Mayan calendar for those who think they might need one. Global financial crisis? Arab Spring? Justin Bieber? Go on, take one more bite of AC/DC — add some much-needed stability to your life. Even in the 21st century, some things never change, and that's cool by me.