AC/DC cranks up the voltage at Gillette Stadium
FOXBOROUGH — Kicking off its North American tour for its 2014 album “Rock or Bust,” AC/DC definitively, thunderously, and ecstatically chose rock.
Thanks to a break following recent overseas dates, the 50,000-plus fans that crowded Gillette Stadium Saturday night — many sporting newly purchased AC/DC-branded, blinking, red devil horns — got the legendary Aussie rockers with fresh legs and voices as they offered up a brawny set including a trio of new tunes and a clutch of classic hits from its 40-year-deep catalog.
Indefatigable lead guitarist Angus Young remains the centerpiece, duckwalking around the stage in his iconic schoolboy uniform — perhaps the most comically honest wardrobe choice in rock history — furiously firing off solos of pure molten lava. From the frenetic fretwork of “Thunderstruck” — one of the night’s loudest singalongs — to the epic 10-minute-plus solo at the end of “Let There Be Rock” that closed the set proper in a flurry of confetti, he was a man aflame and the all-ages crowd roared its approval.
Frontman Brian Johnson matched his mate’s energy, stomping and skipping about the stage as he bellowed, brayed, and belted out the band’s signature tracks, both his own and those sung by the late Bon Scott. From devilish anthems — “Hells Bells,” “Highway to Hell” — to odes to carnal pleasure — “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Whole Lotta Rosie” — and giggly menace — “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” “T.N.T” — and, of course to rock itself — “High Voltage,” “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You).”
There were few frills beyond enormous video screens, show-closing fireworks, a single inflatable prop — a busty, scantily clad woman to accompany “Whole Lotta Rosie” — and the familiar giant, swinging bell that heralds the crunch and clangor of “Hells Bells.”
But part of AC/DC’s power is that very lack of smoke and mirrors, that relatability in the feeling that these everyday Joes in their black T-shirts just ambled over from the pub to rock your world, which they did repeatedly from the still-potent wallop of “Back in Black” to the stomp and sizzle of “Have a Drink on Me.”
It was painful to see the group without founding rhythm guitarist-songwriter-anchor Malcolm Young, who retired because of multiple ailments. But as he did in the late ’80s and on “Rock or Bust,” the Youngs’ nephew Stevie ably joined Uncle Angus, Johnson, longtime bassist Cliff Williams, and drummer Chris Slade — himself a returnee, subbing for the legally entangled Phil Rudd — in doing the legacy of Malcolm’s hard rock riffage proud.
With Vintage Trouble at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Saturday