At the end of AC/DC’s Rock Or Bust World Tour, bassist Cliff Williams confirmed his retirement in this heartfelt video.
AC/DC has gone through a lot of changes over the last few years. Founding member Malcolm Young was diagnosed with dementia and so entered nephew Stevie Young on rhythm guitar. Original drummer Phil Rudd ran into legal troubles and was replaced by former member Chris Slade. Earlier in 2016, the untimely diagnosis of lead vocalist Brian Johnson’s hearing put the band into a position to make a change behind the microphone. Now, how the matter was handled could be debated and was a main topic for discussion around the music circles for months. The 10 remaining U.S. dates were postponed until the fall (including the show in Buffalo, NY). Soon after this postponement, it was announced that Guns N’ Roses vocalist Axl Rose would take over Johnson’s duties. Within the last few months, longtime bassist Cliff Williams announced he would retire after these final 10 U.S. dates. These types of changes would derail any band but not AC/DC. On Monday night, 10,000 plus fans packed the newly renamed Key Bank Center (formerly First Niagara Center). I must admit that I was apprehensive and not sure what to expect with Rose handling two different styles of vocals with Johnson and original vocalist Bon Scott. Well, Rose was up to the challenge in more ways than one. With Rose going back and for the between his day job with Guns and his moonlighting gig with AC/DC, his voice seems stronger than ever. I thought that Rose could handle the Scott material but questioned if he would have the power and chops to give the Johnson era a fair shake. Well, I was half right. He killed it on both fronts. With Rose on vocals, it seemed the band was able to dig deeper into the earlier Scott material and give fans some gems in “Riff Raff” and “Live Wire.”
Make no mistake, Rose fit nicely in the background for the most part as original guitarist Angus Young worked the stage up and down each of the ramps (two side ramps and one the thrust down the middle). He still embodies the school boy outfit that he has worn for over 40 years. Young and Rose did come together briefly at a few points during the show but between both, they let the music do the talking for the 2 hour 38 minute set. The only time Buffalo was mentioned was when the band was exiting and Rose thanked Buffalo for coming to the show.
All the special effects still rule the day as the bell dropped for “Hells Bells,” the blow up doll inflated and gyrated during “Whole Lotta Rosie” and the cannons fired for “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You).” A confetti storm exploded during the end of the Angus Young guitar solo before the band exited the stage, previous to the encores.
Both Stevie Young and Cliff Williams worked in sync as they added harmonies in unison when needed but pretty much stood back on each side of Slade’s kit. Williams and Slade were locked in and really provided an exceptional rhythm section for the rest of the guys. Stevie Young was a commendable replacement for the heart and soul of AC/DC in Malcom Young.
This maybe the last ever time that AC/DC will make an appearance in Buffalo. Everything is still a fluid situation of the comings and goings within the band and there are no commitments after these last 10 shows. If this was it, you could not have gotten a better show from the band. It seemed Angus had a little extra piss and vinegar for his fans. Maybe with the uncertainty of the future of the band, these could be the last shows ever. If this was it, I walked away seeing one of the best shows of 2016 and if you have a chance to catch one of the last 3 remaining shows, DO IT!