Saturday, November 14, 2009

Aerosmith - August 10, 1997

Every Saturday, The Rock and Roll Guru gives a comprehensive review of a live concert.

After my first experience with Aerosmith, I honestly thought that I would never see them live in concert again. I was disappointed at the horrendous show they put on in 1994 and I had no desire to donate any more of my money toward their live performance.

Then Nine Lives came out. It was a fantastic CD, a near masterpiece that I played over and over and over again during the spring of 97. I couldn’t get it enough of it. My wife (at the time) was a big fan of Aerosmith and she loved the new record too. When Aerosmith announced a summer tour that was making a stop at the PNC Bank Arts Center she wanted to go. I complained that the last time we saw them, it was a huge disappointment. She countered by telling me that I should give them a second chance. The new record was incredible, the band was clean and sober, and they deserved one last shot.

I thought about it and agreed. She was right. It was time to give the bad boys from Boston a second chance. We went to the music store, stood on line, and got our tickets for the show. It was going to be my first visit to the PNC Bank Arts Center venue, and I was curious to see what a concert was like there. A hot summer night in New Jersey, witnessing Aerosmith live at a new venue, and giving them the chance at redemption. I was hopeful for an exceptional evening.

Johnny Lang opened the evening, and all I remember was that he played Lie To Me, which is a song that I absolutely love, and that he was an incredibly talented guitarist. He was supporting his debut CD, and some radio jocks were comparing him to Jimi Hendrix (I believe that he was only 17 at the time he released his debut disc). I wouldn’t go as far as to put him in Jimi’s league, but he was amazing with the axe in his hand. That much was true.

After Johnny Lang, my anticipation level grew. Were Aerosmith going to conquer us with a blistering set and an amazing performance, or was it going to be a disappointment like last time? I was still doubtful, but tried to remain positive. I wanted to hear the new songs live and wanted to hear the classics like never before. I wanted Aerosmith to deliver a concert that was worthy of their fame and history.

They stormed the stage with the blistering guitar intro and cat wail of Nine Lives and the night was off and running. Nine Lives sounded incredible live; even better than on the record. Steven Tyler came out strutting his stuff with his patented scarf wrapped microphone stand gripped firmly in his hands. His lanky, wiry body twirled around the stage, and the voice that erupted from such a small frame came with the force of a lion’s roar. The band was on and they were giving one hell of a performance to open the night.

The magic didn’t stop there. Joe Perry was jaw dropping on the guitar all night long. His riffs cut through the summer air like a chainsaw through dead wood. His solos were intense and he set the pace and the tone for the rest of the evening.

Huge hits, new favorites, and timeless classics were all performed during their 2-hour set. Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees), Love In An Elevator, Pink, Rag Doll, Cryin’, Draw The Line, Dream On, and Sweet Emotion were all performed with passion. Aerosmith’s love for music and live performances dominated the summer night. Tyler’s ability to work the crowd, force sing-alongs, and get everyone in the mood to have a good time was second to none. Hit after hit rolled off his lips effortlessly and flawlessly.

We danced and sang the night away with an unmatched intensity. This is the Aerosmith that I had been waiting to see. This is the Aerosmith that I had heard so much about. This is the Aerosmith that I fell in love with.

Tyler’s voice was a well tuned siren that cried out into the dark with delight. His vocals were exceptional and the power in his voice rang through. He delivered the goods in a way that only a seasoned professional front man could. He made me a believer on that evening and solidified my feelings for the band. All was forgiven for that 1994 concert, Aerosmith was back and I was definitely going to see them live again.

At the end of the night I thanked my wife for making me take a second chance. Sometimes second chances turn into regrets, but on that August evening, a second chance turned into praise. Aerosmith was incredible and I was happy that we had taken the chance to see them live one more time.

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