Aerosmith shows love for cancer kid and Tojo’s sushi at Vancouver gig

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 27, 1994

The most memorable moment of Aerosmith’s latest Vancouver concert didn’t occur when Steven Tyler came tearing out in multicoloured rags to kick-start the show with a screech at the beginning of “Eat the Rich”. Nor was it when bare-chested guitar god Joe Perry steamed across the stage during a rip-roaring solo on the band’s big hit from ’75, “Sweet Emotion”.

The greatest thing about Aerosmith’s Monday-night (October 24) gig at the Coliseum didn’t even occur in full view of the more than 14,000 fans in attendance. It happened during the Perry-sung “Walk on Down”, when Tyler snuck over to an area of the stage where a nine-year-old boy with cancer was watching. It had been the Vancouver Island youngster’s big wish to meet Aerosmith and see them play, so the band made sure he and his mom got the royal treatment.

Tyler took the kid’s drumstick-laden hands in his and showed him how to drum along to the tune’s simple boogie beat. Tyler kissed the boy’s bald head and raced back on stage in time for the next song, having showed the true character of a band that has itself triumphed over adversity. And when the little guy, unaccompanied, started swinging those sticks in perfect time to the next song, “Love in an Elevator”, it was clear that Tyler’s impromptu percussion seminar had made a real difference.

Besides that little life-affirming scene, there was plenty of good rockin’ stuff going on when Boston’s hard-rock kings came to town for the second time on their triumphant Get a Grip tour. Since the group’s last visit, that album has been selling better than ever, with power ballads such as “Crazy”, “Cryin’ ”, and “Amazing” ruling North American airwaves and video channels. Along with those mainstream pop faves, the group dredged up some of its grittier early works, ringing the crowd’s ears with such riff-driven rave-ups as “Rats in the Cellar” and “Walk This Way”.

As always, drummer Joey Kramer was the titanium anchor for the band’s metal-forged R&B excursions. You wonder if the muscular skin-thrasher sees the face of a despised ex–high school teacher on each of his drum kit’s parts, the way he smacks every cymbal and drum—even during the mellower tunes—with pissed-off, punishing might.

“This show’s brought to you by Tojo sushi,” declared Tyler at one point, referring to the West Broadway restaurant the health-conscious rockers tend to frequent. And judging by Tyler’s endless energy and Perry’s tightly toned bod, the former Toxic Twins have put their vices behind them…well, maybe not all of ’em. According to my girlfriend, who made steady use of my binoculars during the gig, the words “lick me” could be seen scrawled across Tyler’s lower belly.

Funny, I hadn’t noticed them there myself.

Opening act Pride & Glory also put on an impressive set, thanks mostly to the dazzling guitarwork of 27-year-old Zakk Wylde, who blows up amps for Ozzy Osbourne when he isn’t fronting this southern-rock power trio. Spitting acrobatically and cursing vehemently, Wylde swaggered around like a redneck Ted Nugent—only a little more macho, if you can believe that.

But the New Jersey native’s juvenile approach couldn’t conceal the fact that he has some very promising material in tunes such as the vitriolic “Horse Called War” and gospel-tinged “Sweet Jesus”. No wonder he plans on making Pride & Glory his first priority, even after helping Osbourne get back on track with his No More Tears comeback.

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