Aerosmith still rocks, after all these years

Categories:  Aerosmith

The StarPhoenix, Canada
By: Heather Persson
September 13, 2010

Aerosmith — featuring lead singer Steven Tyler (left), guitarist Joe Perry (right), Brad Whitford on rhythm guitar, Tom Hamilton on bass and Joey Kramer on drums — left fans at Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon wanting more. (Photograph by: Richard Marjan, The StarPhoenix)

I’ve been waiting to see Aerosmith since 1988.

So it was with a sense of destiny and some pretty high expectations that I showed up Sunday at Credit Union Centre for the Cocked, Locked, Ready to Rock tour.

I had tickets for their Greatest Hits tour when it hit Regina and my friends and I were stoked — I think that’s the term we used back then — to see the classic band.

Then I got grounded.

I won’t tell you what I did to deserve it, but my parents were justified when they forced me to sell my precious ticket to my buddy Judd.

I’ve always regretted missing that show, but never seemed to get to see the band in the years that passed.

Of course, time marched on. Lead singer Steven Tyler is 62 and guitarist Joe Perry is 59.

But I am pretty sure the show I saw Sunday was as good as anything I would have seen all those years ago.

Tyler is a skinny, stretchy marvel of a front man — sparkly down to the silver studs on his fingernails. His skill with juggling a scarf-draped microphone stand has probably only improved over the years. And his unique, edgy voice — able to scream one minute and croon the next — is strong and vibrant. A muddy sound mix, however, did not do the lead vocals justice.

I may have outgrown teenage-girl drama, but Tyler and Perry apparently have not. Their feud — although Perry denied it in his StarPhoenix interview — has hit the tabloids full force. A story claiming Perry pushed Tyler onstage in Toronto is a hot item. Many say this is Aerosmith’s last tour as Tyler eyes a judging gig on American Idol.

There was no sign of any angst between the pair in Saskatoon, however. Tyler had his arm affectionately around Perry on a regular basis and they happily shared a mic on many occasions.

The rest of the band — including Perry, Brad Whitford on rhythm guitar, Tom Hamilton on bass and Joey Kramer on drums — are the stoic straight men who back Tyler’s antics. But they play like pros and despite decades on the road, don’t just play by rote.

I cringe to think how many hours I had toiled at the Dairy Queen to earn the money to go to that concert back in the ’80s, and it would take at least a full day of minimum wage work to get decent tickets to Sunday’s show. Floor seats started at $111.70 and went to $214.25. Perhaps that is why the venue was not sold out, with occasional empty seats scattered throughout.

Once the crowd was in place for the show, the drama and even the nostalgia fell away. The music became the focal point, which is the way it should be.

Crying, Rag Doll, Jaded, Living on the Edge, Love In An Elevator, What It Takes and Pink were just some of the songs that had the crowd singing at full throttle.

The stage was cool but not crazy for a band of this calibre. The customary big screen was accompanied by nine smaller ones that showed video clips and moved in time with the music.

I have no regrets for keeping Aerosmith on my must-see list for all these years. And if I did get this show in just before they pull the plug, I am lucky.

Time has been kind to opener Joan Jett, who has retained her bad attitude, husky vocals and boyish figure. Still able to wear tight leather pants with confidence, she wielded her guitar with ripped, sinewy arms.

Jett and her Blackhearts rocked highly anticipated favourites I Love Rock and Roll, Crimson and Clover and I Hate Myself For Loving You. She also had the crowd pumping their fists to hits tucked further back in the memory, such as Do You Want to Touch Me There? And she pulled out some songs from her Runaways (her first band) days such as School Days and Cherry Bomb.

A nasty, raunchy energy infused the straight-ahead performance with a band that included a seasoned pro with glowing white hair on drums and a youth with a mohawk playing familiar guitar solos known and loved for two decades. The combination of youthful enthusiasm and professional experience worked well.

Both Aerosmith and Jett proved that age does not have to be a career killer. Sunday was a tribute to the timeless quality of great rock songs.

Photo Gallery:  (here).

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