It was a chilled Friday evening at the Meadowlands Arena, although it might have still been known as Brendan Byrne Arena then. Whatever the name, I was heading there to see Aerosmith and Jackyl rock a New Jersey night in mid-December.
I didn’t know much about Jackyl, other than their radio hits, Down On Me, and Push Comes To Shove. I had never seen them perform and it would be my first time witnessing live Aerosmith. They were touring in support of Get A Grip and Big Ones, their first compilation album for Geffen, which contained hits from their last three records, plus two new songs.
We were sitting in our typical all-that-we-could-afford-section, commonly referred to as “nosebleed” or “cheap” seats. And as hard as this is for me to believe considering today’s ticket prices, I paid $28.50 + $5.00 service charge for the tickets. This was back in the day of standing in line with a wristband to obtain tickets, long before the modern convenience (and extensive fees) of online ticketing.
Jackyl took the stage first and as previously mentioned, I didn’t know much of their music, but that would quickly change. These guys sprinted onto the stage like a ball of fire and blew me away from the opening notes of their first song. They were full of southern energy and Hillbilly rock that packed quite a punch.
Toward the end of their 45-minute set, Jesse James Dupree, lead singer extraordinaire, came out with a chainsaw, to what I assume must have been The Lumberjack (again, I didn’t know the songs then) and proceeded to cut up a bar stool with a chainsaw live on stage. Having never seen anything remotely resembling that spectacular spectacle, I was amazed. However, Jackyl was not done.
The guitarist then launched into The Star Spangled Banner and entered the crowd. Not the crowd on the floor, mind you, the crowd seated in section 112. He played our national anthem with fans touching him, standing next to him, and staring in awe. I was dumbstruck and an instant fanatic.
Aerosmith would take the stage next, at about 9:25. After seeing the blistering warm up from Jackyl, I expected incredible things from the bad boys of Boston, especially since they were supporting a hits collection. That meant they would be performing nothing but hits. I had heard so many great things about the band that I could not wait for their portion of the night to begin.
I don’t remember what they opened with, but I do remember this…they weren’t that good. Perhaps my expectation levels were escalated, perhaps they had an off night, perhaps they were tired at the end of an extensive tour-whatever it was, the band did not produce the grand event that I had heard made them famous.
Steven Tyler’s singing and energy was half-assed and lackluster. Joe Perry’s guitar work was not up to snuff, and definitely not what I had heard on albums and live records. Who were these clones? Then, when Joe Perry sang two songs, I almost walked out. Why was Joe Perry singing songs? Who wanted to hear songs from a solo record that nobody owned? We came to hear Aerosmith!
One of the few highlights of the night was a live Blind Man. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only tour that it’s been played on, so I was one of the lucky ones who got to hear it live. Aerosmith should think about dusting that off for the next tour. It was always a great song.
Then, at 11:00 pm, the concert ended, encore and all. 90 freaking minutes of live music. Way to collect your paycheck, guys. I was severely disappointed. Of course, I had only seen artists that played 2- to 3-hour long concerts prior to this show. 90 minutes was unknown to me, and it left me quite unsatisfied.
I even said that I would never see them live again. That would change in the future, but on that particular evening, although I had enjoyed myself, I was saddened at the lackluster performance. The concert certainly did not meet my standards, but perhaps that was the problem, I had set them too high.