From page 87 of Classic Rock Magazine June 2011
Live At River Plate SONY DVD
Beelzebub’s favourite band do their thing in Argentina.
Devil knows how, but, like death and taxes, it seems AC/DC will always be with us. Thirty-six years on from debut album High Voltage , their basic formula remains set in stone – not so much rock these days as marble. Their gigs, meanwhile, resemble religious festivals where worship comes complete with its own set of deities, rituals and paraphernalia (in AC/DC’s case, glowing plastic Devil-horns). Or at least, that’s how it looks on this new live DVD, filmed over three sold-out nights in Buenos Aires on the band’s 2010 Black Ice tour, a jaunt taking in 28 countries and playing to five million fans. With long term video collaborator David Mallet in the directors chair, Live At River Plate was never likely to be a navel-gazing affair along the lines of The Stones/Scorsese collaboration Shine A Light . Instead, in front of an audience of 66,000 screaming fans whose bug-eyed fanaticism is best summed up by one devotee who declares: “Angus is my God, AC/DC is my religion”, Mallet simply lets the cameras rolls and allows the sheer spectacle do the talking.
This, then, is AC/DC live experience in excelcis, where every riff – and they’re all here – is the cue for frenzy and every lyric interpreted as a pop parable (even Dog Eat Dog ’s ‘ Well it’s dog eat dog/Eat cat too/The French eat frogs/I eat you ’). While a series of oversize props (a train for Rock’n’Roll Train ; a bell for Hells Bells ; a blow-up doll for Whole Lotta Rose ; cannons for For Those About To Rock; and so on) are employed at strategic moments, the performance itself
is breathtaking in it’s simplicity. In the bonus feature, a guitar tech explains that Angus eschews effect units completely, and merely turns up the volume for a solo. And, judging by the guitarist’s constant jitterbugging, the only stage aid he employs is the hot-plate beneath his feet. With a chain-smoking Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams providing a granitesolid rhythm section, Brian Johnson keeps the temperature at fever pitch with the occasional rotation of the hips and utterances like: “We don’t speak much Spanish but we speak rock’n’roll pretty good!”
Light relief, meanwhile (although probably not for Andrea Dworkin) comes during War Machine where an animation shows scantily clad nymphettes parachuting from Lancaster bombers along with a bomb carriage of electric guitars. The only insight into how these quinquagenarians generate such fervour comes during an elongated guitar intro to their ode to STDs The Jack where Johnson bellows: “Swear that boy’s got the Devil in his fingers and the blues in his soul!”, and ‘DC’s link to the Mississippi Delta is made explicit.
But then AC/DC are beyond analysis, a 10-legged beast from rock’s whose appeal transcends colour and creed. The band appear to have given up trying to explain it, preferring to muse instead on the quality of Argentinian steak in the bonus mini-documentary. For the rest of us, Live At River Plate is the perfect excuse to dine once more at rock’s high table. All together now: Der-ner nah Ner-ner ner ner: Angus!
■■■■■■■■■■ Paul Moody