Aerosmith: Rexall Place, Edmonton – September 14th

Categories:  Aerosmith

Canoe–Jam, Canada
September 15, 2010

There’s some messed-up stuff going on with Aerosmith these days.

First, Steven Tyler falls off the bandstand and breaks his shoulder — just a stage he’s going through — and then falls off the wagon.

They cancel shows, get sued, come back again even though there’s no new material. Tyler goes to rehab. Again. Apparently he’s feuding with guitarist Joe Perry, who accidentally pushed him off another stage.

The 62-year-old singer is also considering becoming a tool of Satan as a judge on American Idol, where he could wind up being the new Paula Abdul.

Joe is not pleased. They’re both starting to look as haggard as Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, and now Joe’s been telling the press that Vancouver on Thursday may be the last Aerosmith show. Ever.

Don’t bet on it.

The band’s show at Rexall Place on Tuesday night was not the work of a band about to pack it in.

There was no sense of last hurrah, going for the gusto, pulling out all the stops, the epic last waltz, teary speeches, none of that jazz. Nor was the show a complete dud phoned in by tired old coots on their way to the classic rock graveyard.

It was somewhere in between.

In short, here we had just another Aerosmith show on a long, long, long tour. With more bang than whimper, the band barged its way through a predictable hit parade, light on the experimental bluesy side road they took a few years back, heavy on all the classic Aerosmith that paid the bills. There was Same Old Song and Dance to open, how appropriate, or maybe they were being ironic, Jaded, Love in an Elevator (one of the eight great rock songs about oral sex ever written), Livin’ on the Edge, Pink, Last Child, Crying, Walk This Way, you name the hit, they did it.

The 10,000 fans who turned up — not a sell-out — were treated to a very business-like production from these veteran master showmen, most of whom basically provide the sturdy framework for Tyler to bounce around in.

They can’t all be maniacs. Someone has to hold it down. Tyler was the centre of attention, naturally, in fine flamboyant form, scarves aflutter, hitting all the high notes, barging in on a Joey Kramer drum solo, saying all the right things, making the women swoon.

There was a spike in excitement when Tyler sang the first bits of What It Takes a capella to some woman in the crowd he apparently knew, or at least pretended to. Cameras caught the whole exchange. Touching. There was another allegedly interesting moment promised by Perry “doing something a little different,” which was a guitar battle between him and his cartoon self in what turned out to be an ad for the damned Guitar Hero video game.

So much for something different.

The heartfelt version of Aerosmith’s weakest yet most famous ballad, I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing, was another low point.

But let’s focus on the positive: A wild version of Sweet Emotion, a dramatic rendition of Dream On, some remaining chemistry, some “magic” between the guys who have played together for a long, long time.

The Toxic Twins largely kept to their respective corners, occasionally sharing a mike or other close manly contact with no apparent animosity, though Steve, who introduced his longtime partner as “Joe F—ing Perry,” could’ve totally nudged him into the pit during the guitar solo in the Beatles cover Come Together. Restraint has to count for something, doesn’t it?

Just kidding.

These guys are professional rockers. Uncertainty about the future doesn’t seem to faze them.

Aerosmith has been through worse drama before and survived to come back bigger than ever. Hey, it could happen again.

Opening act Joan Jett sure is holding up well.

That’s because she never pretended to be anything other than what she is — the consummate rock chick.

A small place in rock ‘n’ roll history is thus assured, starting with the Runaways and Cherry Bomb and into the defining hits like I Love Rock n Roll, Crimson and Clover and I Hate Myself for Loving You, along with plenty of steamy songs about sex. I particularly like The French Song, whose key line translates to “I enjoy the love of all three.” Jett did it all Tuesday night, vocals strong and sweet leading a bash through memory lane with her dependable band, the Blackhearts.

They might’ve been better in a sweaty bar, but there is nothing sexier than a woman operating heavy equipment — in this case her trusty rhythm guitar — and in a land where there are so few female pop stars who actually know how to rock, Joan Jett stands apart.

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