It was the summer of 2020, and my obsession with AC/DC was at its peak! I’ve watched enough live footage to know that they are one kick*** live band. I made up my mind that I wanted to buy a concert release, but I had no idea which one to get; I got torn between No Bull (1996) and Stiff Upper Lip Live (2001). I ended up getting both because I knew I wanted the latter, but I couldn’t pass on No Bull for two reasons: they played “Girls Got Rhythm” and all the close-up shots of Phil Rudd! I ordered both concert releases (along with a few other stuff) from Amazon on July 26, 2020, and my package arrived on August 6, 2020.
I bought the director’s cut edition titled No Bull: The Director’s Cut on Blu-ray because, why not? It was only about $20. The Blu-ray release came out in September 2008. The concert is from July 1996, at Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas in Madrid, Spain. The bonus features include two rare performances from the Ballbreaker tour and “Angus-Cam” views for “Shoot to Thrill,” “Hail Caesar,” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” and “You Shook Me All Night Long.” I wasn’t impressed by the rare performances, to be honest.
The “Cover You in Oil” performance is from Gothenburg, Sweden. It was cool, but they kept showing scenes from the music video when the guys were singing the chorus. All I wanted was to see Malcolm Young and Cliff Williams do their thing on the backing vocals, but instead, the video shifted focus to the women covered in oil. The “Down Payment Blues” performance is from Daytona Beach, Florida. That one would’ve been alright if they didn’t end the video abruptly; Brian Johnson only had like a minute left of wailing, for goodness sakes. The energy for both performances was awkward, and I couldn’t hear any screaming fans, though I heard Johnson’s vocals much better because the crowds were quieter.
The first thing that caught my attention was the main menu; it had this weird cartoon of Angus with a bull on the opposite side. Little did I know that there was more; there was a scene with a lady wearing quite revealing clothing riding a mechanical bull and another one of Angus teasing the bull.
There was also this scene with Angus and whoever these people are!
The setlist was pretty typical. It had the classics like “Back in Black,” “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” “Whole Lotta Rosie,” “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” and “T.N.T.” But as mentioned before, they played “Girls Got Rhythm,” which was a fun way to spice up the setlist. The first time I heard that riff, I was in rock ‘n’ roll heaven. I’ve never heard anything like it because it was so melodic yet bad***. They also played four tracks from Ballbreaker (1995); “Hard as a Rock,” “Boogie Man, “Hail Caesar,” and “Ballbreaker.”
It would’ve been nice if they included “Jailbreak,” “High Voltage,” and “Moneytalks” from the previous tour, but oh well. I’m happy they played “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” though, because they dropped it after the Stiff Upper Lip tour, which I have no idea why. If they were to drop a song from the Back in Black era, it should be “Shoot to Thrill,” not “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” not with that riff.
I kept quiet throughout the entire concert to pay attention to the mix and see how the boys sounded. Johnson’s voice sounds a bit more worn out, and it looks like those cigarettes were starting to catch up to him. He was fine in the lower register, but when he started screeching and singing higher, his voice seemed strained. “Thunderstruck” was the weakest one from Johnson vocally.
I loved the raw and airy tone on Rudd’s drums, specifically his snare. However, I felt like Angus’ guitar was louder than Mal’s guitar, and I couldn’t hear Mal’s parts. It was noticeable on “Let There Be Rock,” where usually, Mal’s guitar is piercing through the mix all the way, but not on this performance. Don’t get me wrong; you can still hear Mal, but to me, Angus overpowered him on some songs. Also, I say this a lot, but I cannot hear Cliff’s bass often. I perceived some of his parts on “Hail Caesar” and “Boogie Man,” but that’s about it.
Regardless of the setlist and mix, it’s still AC/DC, and it was worth what I spent. Plus, I appreciated the cameraman for giving Rudd the spotlight he deserves (in a positive way). But come on, take a shot every time they showed a close-up of Rudd and see if you’re sober by the end of the two-hour show. Also, because I didn’t sing along to any of the songs, that did make the viewing experience less enjoyable. That is understandable because who goes to a concert without the intention of singing along to your favorite songs?
Is No Bull better than Live at Donington (1992)? In terms of the setlist? No. But in terms of energy and playing? Yes. I’ve always said that AC/DC refound themselves when Rudd joined the band again, and the chemistry is there between the boys. They were having fun, were in-sync, and there were no crazy tempo changes. For any AC/DC fan, No Bull is a lovely addition to the collection, and overall it is a great concert to watch when you have nothing to do and want to listen to killer riffs and good old rock ‘n’ roll! I’d rank this release 4 out of 5 stars.
Take care and see ya real soon!