There was a time when going to an AC/DC concert was akin to selling your soul for rock n’ roll. It was hellfire pyrotechnics combined with singer Brian Johnson’s guttural banshee howls and naughty school boy guitarist Angus Young channeling dark forces through amplified chord surges.
How metal has changed.
Sunday’s AC/DC show at the Toyota Center (the second time the Houston Rockets home has played host to the “Black Ice World Tour” in the past year) was a head banging Disneyland. The songs are youthful nostalgia for the middle-aged and great “oldies” that rack up crazy points on “rock band” for the kiddies.
Thirty-six years after AC/DC began the winning mix of blues, feedback, lust and fire hasn’t changed. The world around them, however, has. The dirty deeds of these five Aussie metal grandpas don’t hold a candle to the exploits of Amy Winehouse or Jon & Kate.
The two-hour set featured a fine showcase of AC/DC’s hits, an onstage train wreck (literally) and the ear-splitting hell’s bells and cannon blasts that are the band’s signature. There were even devil horns — battery operated with blinking lights. They could be bought at the merchandise booth like Mickey Mouse ears.
1. Fans got a little more show than those who attended the group’s first visit on Dec. 14 of last year. The new set had 19 songs. The first show had 18.
2. More crucial were the quality of the changes. Last December’s show was a showcase for the band’s latest studio album, “Black Ice,” which had just been released. This return trip was for the die-hard followers who wanted as many '70s and '80s blues-rock thrashers as possible. New for this show were fan-faves “Shot Down in Flames” and “Dog Eat Dog.” Omitted was recent single, “Anything Goes,” a new song that nobody missed.
3. With the exception of “Thunderstruck,” and the mandatory four new songs from “Black Ice” (it’s only fair to support the album that the tour is named for), every other song in the set was released before 1983.
4. This was AC/DC’s first headlining arena tour in eight years.
5. Most unlikely song played: “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be.” This bit of early blues rock from 1977’s “Let There Be Rock,” wasn’t even a celebrated cut when the album was released. Song not played, but missed: “Who Made Who.” One of the most hypnotic sonic licks Angus Young ever created (and that’s saying something).
1. “Rock ‘N Roll Train”
2. “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be”
3. “Back In Black”
4. “Big Jack”
5. “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”
6. “Shot Down In Flames”
8. “Black Ice”
9. “The Jack
10. “Hells Bells”
11. “Shoot To Thrill”
12. “War Machine”
13. “Dog Eat Dog”
14. “You Shook Me All Night Long”
16. “Whole Lotta Rosie”
17. “Let There Be Rock”
18. “Highway To Hell”
19. “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)”