Thirty years ago today--on January 11, 1991--AC/DC played the first night of a double-header at the Pacific Coliseum.
The band was flying high on the strength of its latest album, The Razors Edge, which had been partially recorded at Vancouver's Little Mountain Sound, produced by Bruce Fairbairn and mixed/engineered by Mike Fraser.
You may recall the first single from that album, "Thunderstruck".
Being a real hard-rock hog, I went both nights.
Maybe you did too?
To jog your memory, here's my review(s), originally published in the January 17, 1991, issue of the Georgia Straight:
So what’s a devoted rock critic to do when one of the genre’s most potent acts hits town for two back-to-back, sold-out shows? Does he pick one night and hope to hell it’s the best one? Not likely. He checks ’em both out, of course.
Talk about journalistic integrity! Talk about hard-rock greed!
As it turns out, there were a couple of minor differences between AC/DC’s Friday and Saturday (January 11 and 12) shows at the Pacific Coliseum. The crowd threw more firecrackers and clothing on stage the second night, and sang along more exuberantly to the choruses of “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. And the band took a lot longer between tunes on Saturday, which slowed the rhythm of things down a bit.
But the crowd appeared to behave itself both nights—as far as I could see there weren’t any fights among the typically volatile AC/DC fans. Maybe all the trouble-makers who took part in the gatecrashing, bottle-throwing riot that occurred the last time AC/DC played here—at B.C. Place Stadium in ’88—have grown up since then.
The set lists were exactly the same each night: the band started the show off on a high note with the recent “Thunderstruck”, and finished it with several cannon blasts on the metal anthem “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”.
The stage—with ramps on either side for lead guitarist Angus Young to scamper up and roll around on—was outlined with a string of bead-like red lights and backed by a stack of metal cages like the ones occupied by head-banging kids in the “Thunderstruck” vid.
A huge bell with the band’s logo emblazoned on it was rung for the intro to “Hell’s Bells”, and hundreds of phony bills were dropped onto the frenzied floor crowd during the band’s latest single, “Moneytalks”.
An enormous horned head and a hand clutching a pointy tail were inflated behind the drum kit for the tune that garnered the best response both nights, “Highway to Hell”.
Young’s undying energy and guitar prowess were startling, Brian Johnson’s throaty growl hung in there, and the rhythm section was a churning, relentless machine. Former Firm member Chris Slade had the best drum sound I’ve ever heard in the Coliseum, and the guitar onslaught—while loud enough to cause earthquakes—came through clean and clear.
In the metal realm, it doesn’t get any better than that.