Last Night: Aerosmith At Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Ed. note: See a slideshow from Thursday night's concert with Aerosmith and Sammy Hagar here.
Remember when you were little and would watch your parents fight around the house?
Everyone can relate, unless you grew up in a Martian family that never showed emotion or grit walking along the road of life together. Doors would slam, eyes would roll, accusations would fly, maybe a few tears would fall. But in the end, everyone hugs, kisses makes grand plans and grin like idiots.
Such has been the past year in the life of Aerosmith. Soon after the band's July 2009 show here with ZZ Top, Steven Tyler fell off a stage in South Dakota and all hell broke loose.
Everyone in the band - well, mainly just guitarist Joe Perry - got aggravated with their lead singer. Not due to the freak injury, but internal strife. Soon they were in the press talking about new lead singers, with fans mourning the band after 39 years of action.
We never thought we would see the Boston boys in a live setting again. After four decades, they had done everything a band could do. Form, record, tour, rise, fall, die, resurrect, die again, only to come right back to life. They could have shoved off and died at sea. Sure enough, Tyler quickly shaped up and went to rehab for certain "ailments" and all was well in the Aeroforce.
This all proved that rock and roll is now ageless and impervious to most everything except plane crashes and suicides. The elder giants will never go away. Bono will be an octogenarian under a claw one day, and James Hetfield will bellow through an oxygen mask in front of Aftermath's grandkids. And either Tyler and Perry will die during an encore sometime in 2035.
But let us be blunt about the first hour or so of last night's Aerosmith gig.
It was godawful. Bad. The sound was bombed beyond recognition. Tyler was changing inflections and phrasing, making it hard to dance or sing along. Well... adequately. The band sputtered over songs that they have now been playing for 17 or even 30 years.
Quiet men Bradley Whitford and Tom Hamilton didn't lose a beat, even when the whole thing was going full-on Hindenburg. Perry and Tyler were glaring at each other during songs, seemingly seconds away from a brawl. Drummer Joey Kramer was working like a Japanese beaver to keep up with the oddities going on around him.
We couldn't tell if it was technical glitches or a shear case of the fuck-its going on onstage, but more than half the time - from show opener "Train Kept A Rollin'" until maybe the start of "Last Child" six songs later - it was a real horror show. Aftermath's jaw were dropped out of disbelief, partly at Tyler's teleprompter we spied onstage.
Each instant we heard a mike crap out on him or we spied his arms flailing in anger towards someone offstage was like a tiny dagger being stuck in our image of the band. All it would have taken would have been a guitar neck in a face or someone tripping someone up, and this would have been a different review.
Then, after Perry did his requisite blues song and the band had a break, something seemed to snap in. The energy that should have begun the show decided to show up. Sure, we had to hurdle the inexplicable inclusion of "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" in the setlist to get to the meaty bluesy goodness but sometimes a teaspoon of sugary '90s pap helps the medicine go down.