Aerosmith shows Mötley Crüe what rock’s all about



By Steve Newton

It was billed as a coheadlining tour, but since when is Mötley Crüe equal in status to the mighty Aerosmith? I mean, come on! Aerosmith dropped more killer tunes on Get Your Wings than Motley Crue produced in its entire career! Yet for some strange reason there still seem to be a lot of Crue fans out there, and all the ones in Vancouver showed up at GM Place to worship at the altar of L.A.’s sleaze-metal kings. They lapped up the mindless ’80s crotch rock like Pam Anderson tenderizing Tommy Lee.

The former hair farmers hit the stage to shooting flames and the strains of “Dr. Feelgood”, the title track from the 1989 album recorded in Vancouver with Bob Rock before he went on to (way) better things as Metallica’s in-house producer. The band was actually pretty great when it banged out the bracing “Live Wire”, a track from its impressive debut, Too Fast for Love, but like its glam-rock forefathers KISS, Mötley Crüe put its best album out first and went downhill from there.

“We really bonded with Aerosmith when we were here makin’ Dr. Feelgood and they were makin’ Pump,” proclaimed drummer Lee, before paying crude compliments to our city’s world-class strippers and “bitches”. The Crue has made a career out of demeaning women, but, unlike the last time it was here, Lee didn’t ream the ladies out for not flashing their tits.

Vince Neil implored the crowd to sing along on “Home Sweet Home”, a hit single off 1985’s substandard Theatre of Pain, and they did so with great gusto. The strangest part of the song came when a hard-bodied woman performed Cirque du Soleil–type acrobatics, dangling from a curtain at the back of the stage while the crowd swayed happily along and flicked their Bics. The chick wasn’t even topless!

Around this time I decided I’d had enough of the glorified warm-up act, and went off in search of an early Christmas gift/concert memento for myself. There was a real nice Aerosmith track jacket going for $80; it had the old-school wiggly band-name logo from Toys in the Attic on the front, and the famous wings design from Get Your Wings across the back.

I needed it.

But the first T-shirt booth I visited only had mediums in stock, so, cursing the sizable beer gut Aerosmith inspired me to grow, I went off in search of an XL. While strolling the packed passageways of GM Place, I caught a choice tidbit of wisdom from Neil. “When I say Motley, you say Crue!” he ordered, “and when I say fuck, you say you!”

So there’s a bit of the poet in him after all.

A suitable Aerosmith jacket never materialized, but that wasn’t the only disappointment of the night. When the heroes of my teenage years hit the stage to the gorgeous racket of “Toys in the Attic”, I noticed something was wrong. Four of the five original members looked familiar, but that guy on bass sure the hell wasn’t Tom Hamilton. For one thing, he had orangey hair. And he dressed like he was in the Odds. This wasn’t what I wanted, but no matter how loud I screamed “Where’s Tom?!” the show carried on. (I later learned that Hamilton was recovering from radiation treatment for throat cancer.)

Even without its classic lineup, Aerosmith offered something for everyone. The ’80s-obsessed Motley contingent went nuts for the “comeback” hit “Love in an Elevator”; fans of 2004’s blues CD, Honkin’ on Bobo, revelled in a rowdy version of Big Joe Williams’s “Baby, Please Don’t Go”; and yours truly got his ’70s jollies watching Steven Tyler and Joe Perry conjure the awesome “Seasons of Wither” amid a fake snowstorm.

As for that new bassist, David Hull, he acquitted himself quite well, playing a super-cool solo before Tyler quipped, “What exactly are you trying to say?”, prompting Hull to respond with Hamilton’s deathless lick from “Sweet Emotion”. The only way Aerosmith could have topped that selection was by following it with the monumentally rockin’ “Draw the Line”.

So they did.

Man, I sure wish I’d scored that track jacket.

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