- 15 Jun 17
The Lords Of The Thighs Say Their Goodbyes
There are two Aerosmiths. One is the drug devouring, two or more young ones at a time, missing link between Led Zeppelin and The Stones that reached it’s peak in 1975 with the brilliant Toys In The Attic, and the following year’s equally arse slapping Rocks. The good times got the best of them though, and the eighties saw various members drop, or pass, out before they got back together, spent some time in hospital getting well, and birthed the second Aerosmith, that of the clean and sober years. This version peaked early with 1989’s utterly fantastic Pump, a record every bit as good as their earlier debauched triumphs. Since then it’s been a case of diminishing returns, hiring in professional songwriters, dodgy movie themes, questionable solo records, and stints on talent shows, as well as the expected in fighting. Perhaps they’ve realised it too, as this is billed as their farewell tour, puntastically titled Aero-Vederci Baby. Your correspondent would be like a dog with two mickeys if the band announced that they were going to stick to the three aforementioned classic albums tonight, but that’s unlikely.
So what did we get? Well, the first couple of songs were a bit of a mess to be honest. There are sound problems from the off which never really go away, and, probably as a result, the opening three songs – ‘Let The Music Do The Talking’, ‘Young Lust’, and ‘Cryin’’ – strayed a small bit out of time and out of tune here and there. ‘Livin’ On The Edge’ and ‘Love In An Elevator’ were a bit better, but things really came together when Joe Perry took to the microphone for a two song nod to (Peter Green’s) Fleetwood Mac –‘Stop Messin’ Around’ and ‘Oh Well’, followed quickly by their early classic ‘Mama Kin’. This three song set put them right back into the bars where they came from, Perry played the guitar behind his head, it was their patented Zep/Stones hybrid in full effect.
A brief aside here on the band’s appearance: During ‘Mama Kin’, Perry did a bit of duelling with the other Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford. Perry looked great for a man who must be fast approaching his ninety third birthday (probably), throwing all the required Keith Richards shapes. Whitford, on the other hand, looked like your granddad in Walton’s on a Saturday morning, trying out that Les Paul he has his eye on for a retirement present. Joey Kramer on drums looked scared throughout, like someone in a retirement home who can’t figure out why Matlock isn’t on at the normal time, and bass player Tom Hamilton’s first appearance on the big screen was the stuff of nightmares, Catweazle after a stag do in Ibiza. Don’t get me wrong, they are three fine musicians, but visually, they are a world away from the two front men. Steven Tyler came on in the dressing gown/pyjamas combo that George Clinton possibly left behind him in Vicar Street a few weeks back, and is in really remarkable shape for a man who helped prop up the Columbian economy in the good old days. Perry arrived on stage in a hat and sparkly jacket that made him look like Michael Jackson’s dodgy white uncle who has come to claim those strange kids, but soon morphed into the textbook ageing rock god. They were both good value throughout, although the decision Tyler made to writhe around on the floor for the cameras during ‘Love In A Elevator’ was a bad one. You wouldn’t catch Mick Jagger at that shit, at least not for the last thirty years.
The obligatory acoustic interlude, dobros and 12 strings, followed – ‘Hangman’s Jury’ and ‘Seasons of Wither’. Imagine Mick & Keith doing ‘Prodigal Son’ and then The Zep doing something like ‘No Quarter’. ‘Sweet Emotion’, ‘Rag Doll’, The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ and ‘Dude (Looks Like A Lady)’ all rocked the way they should before the band took their bows.
A grand piano is hoisted on to the stage before the encore so we know what we’re gonna get when Tyler walks back on, his impressive mane tied up in some class of bun that leaves him looking for all the world like Barbie’s crabby step mother who won’t let her go to the ball with Ken. ‘Dream On’ is a success, Tyler’s vocals, on a song he recorded forty-four years ago, are particularly impressive. Joe Perry also climbs on top of the piano for a few bars, which just looks cool. They then take an ill-advised stab at James Brown’s ‘Mother Popcorn’, which sounds almost mathematically unfunky, before finishing with a salaciously good ‘Walk This Way’, which, from where I was sitting, was one of the only two times that the crowd really went bananas tonight, the other being that god-awful number from the movies that even Bon Jovi would think twice about, ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’, during which the guy next to me tried to give me a hug; he was melted with a dirty look but karma swung back a short time later, when the young one behind me spilt her pint all down my back.
A good recovery then, from a ropey start. Buried deep beneath the dodgy clothes, the power ballads, and the confetti and smoke bombs, the heart of an arse kicking bar band still beats.