Aerosmith is reborn as a killer live act on the Permanent Vacation tour

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 29, 1988

By Steve Newton

Prior to Aerosmith’s local appearance last week, I’d seen the Boston band in concert three times, including a show on the massive Rocks tour that saw them headlining over Jeff Beck at the Kingdome in Seattle. Each time before, they had performed more raggedly than singer Steven Tyler looked, and I went away thinking, “Jeez, that’s some kind of ripoff!”. Not so nowadays. With Tyler, Joe Perry, and the rest of the guys off booze and drugs, they’re as capable a hard-rock act as you’re ever gonna find, as 12,500 fans discovered at the Coliseum last Wednesday (January 20).

After a rather lame opening slot by commercial metalists Dokken (who sounded like Motley Crue with a drunk Eddie Van Halen sitting in), Aerosmith kicked things off with the title track of their breakthrough 1976 LP Toys in the Attic. Steven Tyler appeared in a skin-tight white outfit, replete with headband, bell-bottoms, and scarves aplenty, and danced around like a scarecrow with a bumblebee up its butt.

Mainman Joe Perry was a contrast with his shiny black wet-look, traipsing around and knocking off raucous lead and rhythm licks with wild abandon. Second guitarist Brad Whitford and bassist Tom Hamilton were content mainly to stick to their own territory at stage right, laying down the rhythm with the help of straightforward skin-basher Joey Kramer. When Perry swing into the familiar intro lick to “Same Old Song and Dance” and the band came barreling in right on cue, I knew this was the Aerosmith I’d been hoping to see all along.

“Did you now that Friday Night Videos won’t play our video?,” shouted Tyler as he introduced the band’s current single, “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”. “They say there’s too much crotch-grabbing in it.” But that didn’t stop Steve from grabbing his whenever possible. (At least on him the action looks believable. Have you seen Michael Jackson’s latest video?)

As if to drive home the band’s preoccupation with the male reproductive organs, Aerosmith stormed through the naughty “Big Ten Inch Record”, while the first of many expensive-looking running shoes went whizzing past Tyler’s head. Later on in the show, when he got fed up with being a target for Adidas, he warned that the next person to throw something would be the victim of some heinously stupid punishment, too rude to describe. This tactic seemed to work pretty well and soon Tyler was safe to rampage about the stage to the strains of “Back in the Saddle” (the band’s theme song nowadays) and “Draw the Line” (with thrashy tunes like this, who needs “speed metal”? Not me.)

After a nifty extended drum solo–in which Kramer played the stage itself with some new-fangled electronic drumsticks–the band came out for an encore of the Beatles’ “I’m Down” and their own classic ode to gettin’ it on, “Walk This Way”.

 

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