Although AC/DC didn’t release any new material between 2001 and 2008, they did make sure fans had enough to buy. Album remasters, DVD sets, and re-releases of their concert videos being chief among them.
Live at Donington was released TWICE during this time. The first was on DVD in 2003 and the second was on Blu-ray in 2007. Of course, I had to re-buy it both times:
What else was I going to do with my money? Invest it? Well, in my defense the DVD only came with an ad for the DVD I just bought, while the Blu-ray came with a fake back stage pass!
Well, there are a couple of more reasons to upgrade to the Blu-ray. The entire concert was originally shot using 35 mm Panavision film, which was newly transferred into 1080p high definition with a PCM 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack. The image quality is brilliant and I was noticing things I had never seen before. Mostly faces in the crowd and how jacked Brain Johnson was.
I am disappointed by the new 5.1 audio track as I found Angus and Mal’s guitars to be too hot in the mix and overpowering the rest of the band. I was experiencing Fly On The Wall flashbacks. I got much better results by switching to the PCM 2.0 stereo mix, allowing my home theater receiver to fake the surround sound. You might like the 5.1 mix, but this sounded like the show I remembered.
The set list for this show is iconic. The video was meant to compliment AC/DC Live, which was released at the same time. Both were the first live material the band had released in about a decade, so for many this would be the first time they had seen a full live show from them. And if you were to introduce someone to AC/DC, you can’t do better than starting them off with:
Shoot To Thrill
Back In Black
I know there are those who will disagree because they would peffer to add their personal favourites, but I think you can’t do better for a general introduction to the band for most people. As for the rest, you got:
Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be
Fire Your Guns
Jailbreak – extended version
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Whole Lotta Rosie
You Shook Me All Night Long
Let There Be Rock – extended version
Highway to Hell
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)
Out of that, Heatseeker, Fire Your Guns, and Moneytalks were dropped from the setlist after this tour, so this is your chance to watch them play it live. Dropping Moneytalks is the most surprising considering how well it charted for them. Well, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since they didn’t respected the song enough to use a space bar when coming up with its title.
I wasn’t looking forward to watching the extended versions of Jailbreak and Let There Be Rock as I do not often listen to the entire tracks when the come on AC/DC Live, but they both ended up being a couple of my favourite moments.
Angus’ “strip tease” during Jailbreak still got a chuckle out of me despite seeing it a million times already. Chris Slade looks like he is having the time of his life during it. Like he was a fan who was allowed to play with the band for a day. And he almost was.
And I liked the build up to Angus coming out in the middle of the crowd on a rising pillar during Let There Be Rock. His guitar cuts out a few times during this which only gave the performance some extra legitimacy.
Live at Donington captures AC/DC when they were at their heaviest. The concert features fast ‘n furious versions of Whole Lotta Rosie, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and T.N.T. that will bang you up good. There are not many surprises during the show, but it has all the usual stuff that makes you feel good. I guess that previous sentence can be used to describe most of AC/DC’s material.