Photos by Janine Van Oostrom.
Being a replacement frontman is hard; fans expectations are high and no matter how good you are you will never be the original. Even if you come from being a frontman in one of the biggest bands in the world you still have shoes to fill and it’s not guaranteed they will be your size. That is the case for Axl Rose as he steps away from his role in Guns N’ Roses and steps in as the new voice of AC/DC.
Anyone who walked into the First Niagara Centre on Sunday night would be greeted by an onslaught of fans clad head to toe in AC/DC gear (including the red devil horns). While the show was not entirely sold out it must have been hovering at capacity. It wasn’t until you looked up at the 300 section that you would see empty seats. Now if we were judging how the show went entirely on the energy of the fans one would quickly rate it 10/10 but that’s not the case. Remember this that any fan with enough alcohol in their system will enjoy anything that sounds remotely like AC/DC.
Now of course I’m not saying the fans only enjoyed the show because of their blood alcohol levels and thirst for their bygone glory days. It was a good show; the openers Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown put a young twist on rock n’ roll and Brant himself has some of the most impressive guitar playing skills I’ve ever seen. Also of course Angus Young was extremely entertaining to watch and did a fantastic job of keeping the spirit of AC/DC alive with his jumps, dance moves and of course his blue shorts. Yet when it comes to Rose he was okay and I mean it when I saw only okay. He didn’t blow me away and he also didn’t disappoint entirely; I would say he landed right in the middle. In the end it didn’t come down to his vocals, despite being a bit too screechy for my taste, because he fit the sound of AC/DC. It came down to the atmosphere he brought with him. Let’s start off with the fact that there was a teleprompter on the side of the stage that was showing the words to all of the songs. As I watched this I was floored by it and couldn’t shake it that Rose didn’t even bother to learn the words to the songs. Of course he wasn’t sitting there reading he lyrics off the screen but it was obvious he used the prompter quite a bit. Then on top of that I couldn’t help but feel like the entire show lacked heart, the crowd was hardly addressed throughout the night and if they were it was nothing more than a few words. For me watching those types of shows I feel I am nothing more than a dollar bill to the artist.
I’ll admit that I’m young and was never around to see the original lineup of AC/DC perform so I can’t do a fair comparison of what their live show used to be. That being said I can critically comment on how I felt being in the crowd. Of course I can’t deny that the crowd was engaged and singing their hearts out and seemed to having a rather great time. Maybe all it takes to continuing be a relevant rock band is for your fans to feel nostalgia and you’re set for life.