If any hard rock band embodies the spirit of Branson, Mo., it’s AC/DC. The Aussie raunch ‘n’ rollers have been serving up variations — to use the term loosely — on their bludgeoning, unabashedly adolescent formula for more than three decades. The band hasn’t changed its live show appreciably since the mid-point of that run.
In short, the quintet dish out the ultimate in high-decibel comfort — an m.o. that helped pack the Garden for the first night of this two-gig stand and push their recently released “Black Ice” album past platinum in just two weeks. This perf kicked off with an aggressively screeching rendition of that disc’s first single, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train” — accompanied by a hyper-representational video — but the band made no pretense of flogging new material at the expense of the classics.
The 18-song set was long on hits, including a crunchy “Highway to Hell” and a version of “Hell’s Bells” that retained a surprising amount of the original menace. At times, however, the perfs were frustratingly close to note-by-note replications of their recorded incarnations. Granted, there’s something to be said for consistency, but an extra windmill riff from Angus Young here and there would’ve been welcome.
The immutability of the quintet’s showmanship, on the other hand, is hard to assail. From the appearance of the familiar blow-up doll that landed onstage for “Whole Lotta Rosie” to the cannon blasts that signaled the advent of a powerful “For Those About to Rock,” every detail fell into place as perfectly as it did in 1988 — well, every detail other than Young’s trademark trouser drop, which appeared a bit more arduous for this year’s model.