Top positive review
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Angus has the devil in his fingers and the blues in his soul!
on November 27, 2012
I have a long and a short version of the review of this album.
If you've seen the band live, all you need to know is this: "This is a high-quality 2-CD set of live AC/DC. Period."
If you have the great, great misfortune of never seeing the band live, or if you really want more detail, here's the long version:
Live at River Plate is the first live AC/DC album since AC/DC live. Both are double-CDs that feature the full content of an AC/DC concert. Unlike Live (shot during the Razor's Edge tour in 91), all of River Plate comes from one single venue/night's performance. AC/DC returned to Argentina after a long time since last performing there, and you can tell that the very large crowd is starved for a serious serving of rock'n'roll! This concert has already been released on DVD and is generally available on youtube if you want to preview the songs. For me, the true test of any rock'n'roll band is whether they sound better live than they do recorded. AC/DC is easily one of the greatest live bands ever (they even upstaged The Stones at SARSFest), and this double-CD proves it. So here are the tracks from the album:
1. Rock N Roll Train- I guess I can start this review saying I saw the band three times last tour. Their shows are generally quite predictable, so it's easy to comment from one to another (if it ain't broke, don't fix it is their motto!). The concerts all start with a cartoon video of a runaway train with devil Angus and some hot girls on a train. Fortunately, this CD cuts most of that out (versus the really long build-up of AC/DC Live) and after hearing the squealing of a train's breaks, Angus kicks it into gear with the opening rift of this song. It's a great tune, an instant sing-a-long, and the crowd gets into it right away.
2. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be- this is a long-time concert staple, but I've never found it to rile up the audience as much as other AC/DC songs (e.g., Jailbreak). It's good, but not great, and so is the crowd.
3. Back In Black- here we go. Classic 'DC, great song, crowd's right into it. By this point it's clear that Brian is having an awesome time. Through the whole show he's laughing, making jokes, and even improvising a little. It's his quote that gave me the title for this review.
4. Big Jack- this song just doesn't do much for me. I prefer other songs from Black Ice (e.g., Spoilin for a Fight). But this is a nice addition, as AC/DC have sometimes skimped on new songs from their albums. So it's good for variety's sake at least. The crowd seems to like it, so it's not all bad by any means.
5. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap- back to classic 'DC. The crowd is really into it, chanting along the tune of the song at the beginning. Awesome. Brian really shines as he lists the different "deeds" being offered. The crowd belts out a few rounds of the song quite nicely.
6. Shot Down In Flames- another great tune. I love Bon's lyrics for this song (like I do for so many of his songs).
7. Thunderstruck- this has become a major fan favorite, and the crowd goes nuts when Angus breaks into that classic beginning. Rocks from start to finish.
8. Black Ice- another new song, I dig the different vibe this one has. Angus does great work with the soloing and riffing on it. Very bluesy feel to it.
9. The Jack- a veteran 'DC tune. I like it, but this is the perfect time to take a break to drain any beer that's bugging you. Because you know Angus always does a really long solo, runs from side to side to see which side cheers loudest, then does a strip-tease and moons the crowd (this is when I let my beer go freely back into the wild from which it came). In Canada, he usually moons to reveal Canadian boxer shorts. Here they just say AC/DC (in the video). Anyhow, just so that you know, that's what he's doing for the long parts of this song. It's the only time I fast-forward a song. But the solo once he gets his guitar back is a gem and well worth listening to.
10-Hells Bells- We're right back into it now. From the initial bong of the bell, to that classic opening riff, this just rocks. Brian's voice is in great shape for it and the crowd chants out the melody of the opening riff.
11-Shoot To Thrill- Another off Back In Black. Fortunately, there's only one more to come. Fortunately because some past tours have been dominated by BIB at the expense of the rest of AC/DC's awesome catalog of songs. You can't really skip any of the four in this show, and I do enjoy RnR Ain't Noise Pollution, but four is a good balance of BIB with the rest of their songs.
12. War Machine- Now THIS is one of my new favorite 'DC tunes. It starts off with Cliff leading the charge for once (almost like Live Wire) before the brothers kick it in. It has an almost bluesy shuffle to it during the verses before slamming it in for the chorus. Just bloody awesome. Angus wails nicely towards the end of the song and the crowd is really into it.
13. Dog Eat Dog- another older tune. In fact, the older songs are just about the same ones they did during the Ballbreaker tour IIRC. This is this best DED version I've heard, including Brian yipping and howling before Angus' blistering solo.
14. You Shook Me All Night Long- what can I say about the band's most popular song? Yes, I've heard it about a billion times. But you know what? The chords and the solo are still classic. It's easy to tell why it's so popular. A quick reference to local (i.e., Argentinian) thighs was fun, but not necessary for the crowd to be all over this one.
15. T.N.T.- OK, new fans listen up. I went to a couple of shows last tour where people didn't know that the crowd has to roar "Oi!" during the intro of this song. The band has said it's probably their favorite song, and it's easy to see why. I absolutely freakin' love this tune live with a good crowd. And this is an amazing crowd! While not quite the roar of '91 Live, they nevertheless almost drown out the band as the simple, but powerful chords hammer home. Awesome (yeah, I'm using that word a lot- not a lot of other words to properly describe a great AC/DC concert).
16. Whole Lotta Rosie- the giant inflatable Rosie is back as the band drills out this perennial favorite. Rocking, great lyrics, fun, and one of Angus' best solos from any AC/DC song. Another thing for new fans- you have to chant "Angus!" in between the first chords of this sing (see last song for why this annoys me). Buenos Aires does not disappoint. Loud, boisterous, and right on cue, they really make this song, and the whole concert, a great listen.
17. Let There Be Rock- Cliff had his turn to start a song, now it's Phil's. Boom...boom...boom.boomboomboomboom- let there be drums, let there be guitar, let there be rock! Fast, furious, and flashy, Angus pulls out an excellent version of his end-of-show solo. It's even slightly different from most other end of show/LTBR final solos. Naturally, it leaves the crowd totally jacked up and wanting more. Which after a short delay, the band delivers!
18. Highway To Hell- I bet this song has caused a whoooole lot of speeding tickets. It's deadly to listen to when you're in a car! Once more, the crowd is totally into it and the band is really rocking it out. Brian even gives three tries at having a longer and longer final "Alllllll the waaaaaaaay"! It's awesome to hear him sounding this good and obviously having so much fun.
19. For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)- since 1981 this has always been the band's closer (so don't wait around for another encore after it- it ain't happening). For good reason. I was listening to Kim Mitchell driving through Toronto right after playing this double-CD and sure enough, he played the studio version of this song. Then he said, "Isn't that one of, no, the best way to end a song in all of rock? I mean, how do you top that?" The answer is- you don't. That's why they always end with it. The slow intro, powerful chords, and chanting chorus all lead up to a great, almost classy solo. Then the cannons kick in and the band just goes balls to the wall as it rips out the final half of the song with cannons booming in the background. Brian ends it, as always, by thanking the crowd. But man, if you've just listened to this 2+ hours of plain, raw, rough, fast, bluesy, jaw-dropping, roaring rock'n'roll, you know that it's we who should be thanking them! One of the very easiest five stars I've ever had to give out, Live at River Plate is a MUST for any serious 'DC fan, or for anyone who wants to listen to what rock'n'roll should sound like. After listening to this CD, the short review is all you'll ever need to know about any other AC/DC live show.