I finally get to cross something off my Pop Culture Bucket List!
I have loved Aerosmith for as long as I can remember. I have vivid memories of listening to their 1989 album Pump over and over and over. I am surprised that I didn’t wear out the cassette. I just really connected with the band and their sound for whatever reason. I wonder if I made my parents nervous, walking around the house singing “Janie’s Got a Gun,” since the song is about killing a parent (an abusive parent, which obviously mine were not, but still – probably a little unsettling). I eventually would become familiar with their entire catalog of music. I continued to like the band even as their popularity waned before their mega-hit “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was featured in the movie Armageddon (probably my least favorite of their songs as it has been tremendously overplayed). Nevertheless, even my love for Steven Tyler and the “bad boys from Boston” couldn’t get me to tune into American Idol. Tyler’s appearance as a judge on the show, however, has helped make the band relevant once again and has introduced them to a new audience. So I guess I won’t hold that against him.
I’ve been trying to see Aerosmith live in concert pretty much since I first started going to concerts. The timing just never worked out for me – they came to the area several times while I was away or had other commitments. Back in my younger years, the thought of going to a concert alone was terrifying so if no one was available to go with me, I wouldn’t even consider going. I’m sure there were opportunities to see the band that I missed out on because of my phobia (which I now no longer have – I’d prefer to go with friends, but now have no issue going to a show by myself). For 20 years, the stars just never aligned for me to see one of my favorite bands.
So when I heard Aerosmith was rolling into town this summer, I was determined that this would be the time that I finally saw them, regardless of circumstance. I even rounded up a group of people to go with me, though that ultimately worked a bit against me as no one wanted to spend as much money as I was willing to for tickets, so I was a bit further away than I would have preferred. When you’ve waited two decades for something, you want to be as close as possible. But the good company balanced that out and I still wound up with a good view of the stage from my perch in the upper deck.
Cheap Trick was the opening act, which was a band that technically I had heard perform before as they opened up for Journey at one of the shows I went to (Side note – the 4 bands that I have seen most frequently in concert are Journey, Metallica, Phish and New Kids on the Block. Try and make sense of that!). However, I was in the beer garden for most of that performance, so while I heard muffled tones of their set I didn’t really get the full experience. I had erroneously assumed that the only Cheap Trick song that I knew was “I want you to want me,” so I was pleasantly surprised when I actually recognized a handful of other songs as well. I had no idea that they were the band behind “The Flame” and “Dream Police.” Their performance was generally OK, though the sound quality wasn’t terrific and their wardrobe choices were a little odd. One guy appeared to look like a cruise ship captain. They also didn’t play any of their hits until the very end of the set, so I wasn’t at all disappointed that we got to our seats after they had already started performing. They were serviceable, but not great. I really wouldn’t have cared if they had a bunch of cows mooing on stage for the opening act; I was there for one reason and one reason alone – Aerosmith.
Finally, the moment arrived. I was trying to temper my expectations; when you’ve waited a long time for something, the buildup can sometimes set the bar impossibly high. But I am happy to report that the show was everything that I dreamed of and more. It was definitely the Steven Tyler show and that man is a real force of nature. He took full advantage of the cat walk that came into the audience, to the point where I wondered if the people who had front row tickets felt a little short changed. He was ready to rock from the first moment of their set and had no real interest in slowing down once he got going. He danced, he preened, he twirled the scarf draped microphone – everything you would want from the front man of a rock band. His voice was strong and he can still deliver his trademark howls. Tyler has some sort of weird magnetism which just draws you in; seeing him on stage, I totally understand why so many women have such an affinity for him. He IS rock and roll.
The rest of the band was also given their moments to shine, as they all had solos that were interspersed in the band’s set. Aerosmith is one of the few bands where I actually know the names of all the members. Tom Hamilton, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford all took advantage of having the stage to themselves, though drummer Joey Kramer threatened to steal the whole show with a drum solo that just about brought the house down. The man drummed with his head – what more can I say?
The set list was well-rounded and though there were a few songs I would have liked to hear that they didn’t perform, I was happy with the selection that spanned the band’s history. Going into the show, there was only one song that I really would have been disappointed to not hear – “What It Takes,” which is both my all-time favorite Aerosmith song as well as my go-to song to listen to after some boy has broken my heart, which is kind of an oxymoron. You wouldn’t think that a song that reminds you of heartache would also be your favorite, but what can I say – I’m a complicated person. It may be that the sheer frequency of the latter contributes to the former; familiarity through repetition. I need not have worried – Tyler performed the song about halfway through the set and even put a little bit of a different spin on the first two verses. To hear it live was more than I could have hoped for.
The encore was especially great, as Tyler rose up from the end of the catwalk, seated at a white baby grand piano to play “Dream On.” The piano then became a prop as Tyler jumped on top of it to rock out to “Train Keep A-Rollin,” a tiny Bradshaw cover. Tickertape exploded from the ceiling and then the whole thing was over. I would have happily sat there for another two hours; I just wasn’t ready for the show to be over.
All in all, it was a really great experience and I walked away from the show even more secure in my fandom. For guys in their sixties, they still know how to rock and really hadn’t appeared to lose a step at all. I would definitely go to see them again. Well worth the price of admission. Hopefully next time they’ll have a better opening act.
- Draw the Line
- Love in an Elevator
- Oh Yeah
- Livin’ on the Edge
- S.O.S. (Too Bad)
- Last Child
- Back in the Saddle
- Boogie Man
- What It Takes
- No More No More
- Legendary Child
- I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing
- Big Ten Inch Record
- Sweet Emotion
- Walk This Way
- You See Me Crying/Dream On
- Train Kept A-Rollin’