Steven Tyler ripped off his gold sequin overcoat, fireworks blasting behind him, and screamed, “I’m back in the saddle again.”
Beside Tyler, in black hat, black jacket and just as many sparkles, Joe Perry ripped into a tough and sweet riff he wrote in 1976.
Tyler is 74. Perry turns 72 on Sept. 10.
Apparently, nothing can kill them or their band – not age, drugs, infighting, prolonged hiatuses, pandemics, falling down on stage, falling off the stage, or the death of the record industry. Following inconceivable comeback after inconceivable comeback, Aerosmith have achieved immortality. Or at least that’s how it felt in a packed Fenway Park on Thursday. Packed as in over 38,700 people. According to Live Nation, it was the most concert tickets ever sold for a show in the venue.
Because of those endless inconceivable comebacks, the Aerosmith catalog runs from the ’70 sleaze of “Mama Kin” to the ’80s sheen of “Love in an Elevator” to the ’90s syrup of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” The band indulged in every era without blinking (thankfully leaning into the sleaze).
From “Back in the Saddle,” the Bad Boys of Boston (and they had the energy of kids Thursday), waded into the raunch with impish glee: “Same Old Song and Dance” into “Rag Doll” into “Mama Kin” into fabulous garage rock sludge of Shangri-Las cover “Remember (Walking in the Sand).” I’ve seen righteously dirty and downright ugly Aerosmith sets, this one was righteously filthy.
Tyler’s body has recovered from recent surgery, his voice better than it has been in years, maybe decades. Perry occasionally plays too loose, at the ballpark, he made every riff taught, bright and bold and laid down a half dozen solos in the sweet spot between economical and unhinged.
Longtime secret weapons bassist Tom Hamilton and second guitarist Brad Whitford gave backbone to every pop turn, rock shuffle and power ballad – Perry and Whitford’s guitar duel on “Elevator” showed off 50 years of chemistry. (The band’s longtime drum technician, the didn’t-miss-a-beat John Douglas, filled in for Joey Kramer who is on a “temporary leave of absence.”)
The shiny stuff, which tends to come from the late ’80s and early ’90s, had the band trying to match the fury of the opening 30 minutes. “Cryin’” deserved to be a radio and MTV staple but the Fenway version couldn’t compete with the rough stuff; “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” is better than you remember and worse than anything else in the set.
But it seemed the five couldn’t wait to get back to the ’70s rocks, gems and big ones. Kudos to Aerosmith for spotlighting minor masterpiece “Seasons of Wither.” Congratulations for once again pulling off the epic stunt of having Tyler belt out “Dream On” behind a white grand piano atop the Green Monster. Cheers for slamming “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way” back to back in a closing reminder that Aerosmith’s immortality is based as much on its classic catalog as its stage show.
Now that we know Aerosmith will be around forever, can Fenway book them for 2023 and 2024 and…
Thanks Aerosmith for picking fellow hometown heroes Extreme as the support act. In the ’80s, the band was tighter than its peers. Now Extreme may be the only hard rock act of that era that hasn’t lost a step. Singer Gary Cherone has the pipes, moves, physique, charisma and bravado of a 20-year-old. Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt is the only shredder who can play in the pocket and write memorable riffs. Bonus points for a set that was equal parts tender ballads, funk and neo-classical speed metal. (Please headline Boston soon!)