For those about to rock, AC/DC’s No Bull is a great place to start. Recorded live at the Plaza De Toros De Las Ventas bullfighting arena in Madrid, Spain, the DVD captures the band in the midst of their 1996 world tour in support of Ballbreaker, the album that featured the return of Phil Rudd to the drums. Director David Mallet was disappointed with the previous video release, which was rushed out that same year. Although why is not made clear, this new director’s cut won’t leave any fan disappointed.
AC/DC is an authentic rock ‘n’ roll band. They don’t receive the same recognition as their contemporaries because they weren’t trendsetters, but they epitomize the idiom, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” You can trace what they do back to the 1950s. The music is louder and faster, but they are using the same template, singing about girls and rebellion. Even Angus’ duck walk is a nod back to his idol Chuck Berry who had a similar strut around the stage.
The concert opens with a wrecking ball knocking down a building on stage. Then Angus, clad in his traditional schoolboy uniform, runs out, and he and the band start playing the opening of “Back in Black.” I was surprised to see them start which such a classic song, but it makes clear immediately that the band is ready to have a rockin’ good time.
Brian Johnson’s vocals are stunning because it’s baffling that he can sing — no, make that scream — with such ferocity throughout the night. Most people would surely damage their vocal chords. What is most appreciated by AC/DC fans is that unlike some lead singers who are afraid of comparisons to earlier incarnations of their band, Johnson isn’t put off or intimidated by AC/DC’s history, so even though his tenure with the band is twice as long as previous singer Bon Scott, the setlist is filled with almost equal amounts of their material.
The star of AC/DC is Angus, who is always a spectacle to watch perform. It’s amazing that he can run all over and flail around yet continue to play the guitar so well. “Let There Be Rock” closes out the main set and during it he takes off backstage and zooms away on a golf cart to appear at the other end of the arena where a disc awaits to raise him up in front of those in the cheap seats. He returns to the main stage playing whilst riding on top of Johnson’s shoulders. Then later he runs up stairwells as his guitar sets off fireworks.