[Blu-ray Review] AC/DC Live At Donington

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: 

Live in Donington Front
Notice how the cover image “evolved” from the VHS days.  No need to pay Chris Slade for using his likeness it now!

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.

Booklets for the DVD and Blu-ray are identical, but have some good photos of the concert in them.

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:

Thunderstruck
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
Heatseeker
Fire Your Guns
Jailbreak – extended version
The Jack
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Moneytalks
Hells Bells
High Voltage
Whole Lotta Rosie
You Shook Me All Night Long
T.N.T.
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.

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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.

4.5/5

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22 comments

  1. I was at this show. It was one for the very best Donington Monsters Of Rock shows I ever saw. Metallica were on right before them. Motley Crue before that. I think The Black Crowes opened. It was a hell of a day out. I remember getting the double live CD with the Angus Dollar in it for my Birthday that year too. We caught some notes as they rained down on the crowd during Money Talks but they were all crumpled and soggy by the end of the gig. What a wonderful show it was.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I still don’t like the way Slade plays “T.N.T.” because the intro is too fast with the eighth notes on the bass drums, but that could just be me haha! Glad I can count on you to do the comparisons of the DVD and Blu-Ray, Kevin! Also, maybe they didn’t put a space between “money” and “talks” for the same reason why they didn’t put an apostrophe for Razors on The Razors Edge?

    Like

    1. I agree that the Birmingham recording they used for AC/DC Live is messed up, but I thought he did OK for this Donington show. Plus, he is so animated and looks like he is having fun. I’m cutting him some slack! lol

      As someone who struggles with grammar, both make me mental! I’m sure it was done for aesthetic reasons, but it still ain’t right!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know what, I respect that you’re going easy on him because someone has to do it lol!

        I remember Sea of Tranquility talked about The Razors Edge a few times and how they didn’t like that there was no apostrophe in Razors. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. Though it did make me confused when I reviewed that album because I had to make sure I got the spelling right.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like this part of your review..

    “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.”

    Hot in the mix. lol love it

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve got the DVD of this show. I guess every version after VHS/laserdisc has overdubs done later though. Don’t know why when Brian seemed to be in fine voice considering he blew it out around the time of The Razors Edge.

    Liked by 1 person

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