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AEROSMITH London O2 Arena
15 June 2010
At the start
of the year, you could have got long odds against the classic Aerosmith
line-up touring the UK, with Steven Tyler in rehab for an addiction to
painkillers and the band openly auditioning for replacements and in
legal dispute with him. But within weeks bygones are bygones, and the
legendary Bostonians are announcing a big European tour with headlines
at Sweden Rock and Download and this headline show.
promoters seemed to have misjudged the legends' popularity as, with
ticket prices starting at £75 and most in three figures, the O2 was far
from full with at least half of the upper tier unsold.
Frustratingly those who were there remained rooted to their seats (at
all places, an Aerosmith gig!) even when the ‘Smith led off with two
signature numbers in Love in an Elevator and Back in the Saddle, leaving
me to decamp in search of a spot at the back of the crowd to stand up
and rock out. However the atmosphere looked to be cooking in the
standing floor area, especially with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry making
liberal use of a walkway that jutted well out into the audience.
booked tickets it was in the knowledge this could be a train wreck, so
it was a relief to see Steven Tyler back to his lithe, hyperactive best
and in good voice. On the other hand, he made little direct
communication with the audience and when he did, his between song raps
were barely comprehensible.
Aerosmith catalogue is amongst the greatest, if not the greatest, in
American hard rock, but divides distinctly into two camps - the ragged
sleaze of their drug-fuelled seventies peak, and the glossy hits of the
post-rehab revival from the late eighties onwards. The same is true of
the live set with most of the opening numbers from the latter era,
including Eat the Rich, Falling in Love and Livin on the Edge with some
great slide guitar from the ever masterful and cool Joe Perry.
weakness for a good power ballad, many of theirs, such as What it Takes
and Cryin' felt a bit telegraphed and passionless, and it is the old
material that comes over as being more authentic, particularly when they
stretched out a bit.
included Train Kept a Rollin, the Stonesy Chip Away the Stone and Lord
of the Thighs, with the band jamming out and a very old looking Brad
Whitford sharing lead guitar work for once.
intro from keyboardist Russ Irwin led into I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing,
not my favourite but Steven sounded superb on it. Less pleasing was an
excess of bluesy jams of covers - I could forgive Joe Perry for giving
Mr Tyler a rest with a rendition of Stop Messin Round, but Baby Please
Don't Go outstayed its welcome by several minutes. To play this at the
expense of crowd pleasers such as Dude and Rag Doll seemed a wrong move
to me. At least Sweet Emotion and Draw the Line reminded us of the lived
in, sleazy sound what made them such a seminal act.
two encores were, inevitably, Dream On (the first ever power ballad?)
with Steven on fine form, and Walk this Way, which finally got a few of
the curmudgeons in the upper tier out of their seats, but a singalong
was cut short, allowing them to surprisingly drop in Toys in the Attic
as a set closer.
This was an
entertaining ‘comeback' but for whatever reason felt a bit flat compared
to the spark and sense of occasion of Bon Jovi's shows that sandwiched
it at this venue. Nevertheless it was far better - and longer- than
their perfunctory show at Hyde Park in 2007, and rumours of their demise
are exaggerated - flights are back to normal from Aero Force One.
Love in an Elevator/Back in the Saddle/Falling in Love (is Hard on the
Knees)/Eat the Rich/Pink/Livin' on the Edge/What It Takes/Chip Away the
Stone/Train Kept A-Rollin'/Cryin'/Lord Of The Thighs/Stop Messin'
Around/I Don't Want To Miss a Thing/Sweet Emotion/Baby, Please Don't
Go/Draw the Line
Dream On/Walk This Way/Toys in the Attic
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