Dodger Stadium went from blue to black Monday night when AC/DC took over the place for the final U.S. date of its latest world tour. Out on the road behind last year's strong "Rock or Bust," the "Back in Black" rockers hadn't been missing from these parts for long; they launched the tour, as you may recall, in April at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio. But that didn't stop tens of thousands of Angelenos from packing the Dodgers' home to bang their heads once again. We'll have a full review of the show soon, but until then here are five quick thoughts on what went down.
1. If the band had scaled down its usual production to satisfy the demands of a shared stage at Coachella, you couldn't exactly tell Monday. Sure, there was a giant proscenium arch branded with the group's name. And I suppose the graphics on two enormous video screens were a bit more polished here. But for the most part AC/DC was sticking to the essentials it's stuck to for decades: bright lights, a wall of amplifiers and plenty of space for frontman Brian Johnson and guitarist Angus Young to roam around.
2. Those graphics were polished, but they weren't complicated. Masters of the lyrical double entendre, Johnson and his bandmates are more literal-minded when it comes to their visual presentation. During "T.N.T.," the screens showed images of explosions. "Highway to Hell" had flames licking the band's logo. And for "Thunderstruck" the musicians were surrounded by… a bunch of fearsome-looking lightning bolts. Close enough.
3. In a conversation just before Coachella, bassist Cliff Williams told me AC/DC had been putting in six-hour rehearsals to break in guitarist Stevie Young and drummer Chris Slade, who'd only recently signed on for the "Rock or Bust" tour following the departures of two of the band's longtime members. The practicing – not to mention the last six months of shows – clearly paid off: Here the group was as tight as I've ever heard it, and as swinging too.
4. Dirty deeds, as all AC/DC fans know, can be done for dirt cheap, but the same hardly applies to the band's merchandise. T-shirts were on sale for $45, while a pair of blinking red devil horns – familiar to anyone who caught the group's show-opening performance on February's Grammy Awards – could be yours for $15. I figure I saw at least 10,000 of the latter in the crowd at Dodger Stadium, which adds up to a tidy $150,000 for AC/DC Inc.
5. Though Monday's audience skewed older (and considerably less fashion-forward) than Coachella's, it wasn't without young people. Really young people, that is: Everywhere you looked, it seemed, there was a dad rocking out alongside his school-age son. Who says family entertainment is dead?