Aerosmith shows Vancouver it can still make it through anything


photo by the Newt


Thursday (September 16) was a big night in Vancouver for legendary guitar acts from the ’70s. Over on the North Shore you had Johnny Winter at the Centennial Theatre, while, downtown, Aerosmith was packing them in at Rogers Arena. I don’t know how the albino blues-rocker from Texas fared, but the Bad Boys of Boston definitely acquitted themselves rockingly. Rumours of their demise have been greatly exaggerated, even by me.

Warm-up act Joan Jett got the crowd of 11,000 in a retro mood straightaway with the title track off her 1980 solo debut, Bad Reputation (not to be confused with Thin Lizzy’s awesome album of the same name). Looking mighty fine for 51 in black tank-top and black leather pants, the shades-wearing Jett followed up with the punky strains of “Cherry Bomb”, from her old group the Runaways, and kept the exhilarating vibe going with “Light of Day”, the Springsteen-penned theme song of the 1987 drama she costarred in with Burnaby’s favourite son, Michael.

And I don’t mean Bublé.

During the cover of Gary Glitter’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me”, also from Bad Reputation, the audience needed little coaxing to mindlessly chant “Yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!”, and Jett rewarded its obedience with “A.C.D.C.”—not the band, but the 1974 glam-rock ditty by Sweet of “Ballroom Blitz” fame.

The mid ’70s lovefest continued unabated when Aerosmith hit the stage with the blistering double-shot of “Same Old Song and Dance” and “Train Kept A-Rollin’ ” from 1974’s Get Your Wings. I have no clue how the slashing guitars of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford carried up in the nosebleeds, but from my vantage point on the floor—near the end of the ramp where vocalist Steven Tyler would sashay in his shiny silver pants—it was hard-rock heaven.

Tyler sang his skinny ass off brilliantly, making you wonder why the hell he’d shelf his singing career to become a judge on TV’s vacuous American Idol. Viewers are conditioned to seeing the talent-strapped likes of Sharon Osbourne and Simon Cowell in those type of roles anyway.

Unlike in Toronto last month—when the much-publicized animosity between Perry and Tyler led to the latter being nudged right off the stage—there didn’t seem to be any friction among the bandmates. Tyler rarely let the opportunity to embrace his buddies pass by, whether hanging off of bassist Tom Hamilton during the familiar intro to “Sweet Emotion” or getting up close and personal with drummer Joey Kramer after helping out with his extended, “Look, Ma, just hands!” solo.

While the endlessly gyrating Tyler draws most of the attention from fans, Perry is actually the most magnetic of the two. Whether peeling off choice lap-steel licks with a big stogie in his mouth during the locally made “Rag Doll” or slouching against his amp to fingerpick pretty bits of the uplifting “Dream On”, the just-turned-60 rocker personifies cool. After winning a guitar duel with the animated Guitar Hero version of himself, Perry was shown in video clips hanging out at the Gastown clock and eyeing Canucks jerseys through a store window. His fondness for our fair city is well known, as is his devotion to the six-string stylings of Peter Green, whose bluesy “Stop Messin’ Round” he sang lead on (unfortunately).

During the three-song encore—which, shockingly, didn’t include “Toys in the Attic”—Tyler got everyone to holler “Happy birthday, John!” on cue for a YouTube video that will commemorate what should have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday on October 9. Earlier on Aerosmith had shown its love of the Fab Four by performing Abbey Road’s “Come Together”, which it also recorded for that cheesy appearance in the 1978 movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Hey, if the band survived that calamity, it can make it through anything!

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