ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 30, 1997
At the climax of Aerosmith’s two-hour-plus concert at the Coliseum last Saturday (October 25), muscular skin-basher Joey Kramer emerged from behind his rotating drum kit, trotted to the front of the stage, and jubilantly hurled one of his drumsticks into the roaring, near-capacity crowd. Seeing as my chances were about 12,000-to-one of catching the prized strip of lumber, I wasn’t that interested, but as it soared high, end over end, I realized it was headed toward my section of the old hockey rink. A second later it was arcing down right toward me, so with glorified visions of nabbing a lifelong souvenir in mind, I reached out to claim the trophy…only to have the tall guy next to me casually throw up a hand and snatch it away.
It was my supposed buddy Bones, who wouldn’t even have been there if it hadn’t been for my spare reviewer ticket. “All right! Cool!” he exclaimed, inspecting the Zildjian-brand stick to find it emblazoned with Kramer’s name and splintered from his recent workout on the encore of “Walk This Way”, which made it extra special. Thanks to my so-called friend’s wicked catching hand, there’s one less rock collectible in my office, but that’s what I get for slagging Aerosmith’s latest CD, I suppose.
Even though I’m no fan of its current Nine Lives release, I wasn’t about to miss Aerosmith’s most recent Coliseum gig. I’d seen them play that same venue 20 years ago on the Draw the Line tour—with a Bon Scott–led AC/DC warming up!—plus three or four times since, and each time they’d gotten stronger as a live act. They continued that tradition last weekend with a spotless 23-song marathon that mixed gritty ’70s gems such as “Back in the Saddle” and “Same Old Song and Dance” with today’s slick crotch-pop ditties (“Pink”) and mainstream power ballads (“Hole in My Soul”).
On a smartly designed stage decorated with red cats and fierce green cobras, Steven Tyler proved to be a hard-rock ringmaster of the finest sort, and it’s amazing that the 49-year-old guy can still sing—or screech, as the case may be—as effectively as ever. The loose-limbed dynamo may have originally copped his stage moves from the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, but they’re all his now, and more than 30 years of performance have honed them to raggedy perfection.
But while Tyler is the hyperactive frontman of the band, guitarist Joe Perry still cuts the ultimate Rock God figure, and his fashionable choice of duds for the night—long black gunslinger’s coat and black leather pants—didn’t hurt matters any. No wonder the swarms of curvaceous vixens given special access to the front of the stage seemed about ready to storm the swarthy idol’s barricades.
Partway through the gig Perry mentioned the abundance of tunes on the set list that were recorded in Vancouver, and before taking the lead-vocal spot on a cover of Peter Green’s “Stop Messin’ ’Round”, he dedicated that blues-rock classic to local producer Bruce Fairbairn, who helmed three of the group’s top-selling CDs over a seven-year period. Tyler also offered some complimentary asides about our city, remarking on how it’s the home of—among other things—The X-Files and “the best titty bars in the world”.
I’m not sure which of those two we’re supposed to be most proud of, but if all the rain-drenched titty bars in town pack up and move to sunny L.A., at least we’ll know which monotonic FBI truth-seeker to blame it on.
POSTSCRIPT: as you can see from the accompanying photo, I now have ownership of the Joey Kramer drumstick. My “so-called” buddy Bones is a lawyer, and after reading the review he threatened to sue my ass for libel if I didn’t accept its return as a peace offering.
So I did.