Aerosmith, Cheap Trick Toyota Center July 30, 2012
It always happens. I go into an Aerosmith show full of hate and distrust of laser-lips Steven Tyler and the Aero Posse and end up half-enjoying myself despite all the reservations that the rest of the world pumps into my head.
It's like when you are friends with a dirtbag that everyone steers clear from and rips to shreds behind their back -- and you even join in on the odd occasion -- but when you hang out you do a few shots and go "This guy ain't so bad, but I'm still going to watch my wallet around him."
That's me with Aerosmith when "Rag Doll" and "Livin' On the Edge" get into a room together. Gammy Tyler makes some sort of sissy strut across his runway into the crowd and goes his "Old tin lizzy do it till you're dizzy" hive and I forget I hate them.
Shameful, yes. Cue the eye-rolling. If I tell you that the band and Tyler now work off teleprompters would that make you angrier? Ozzy does it, and so does David Lee Roth.
Of course 42 years into it, there are few surprises here, but there are worse ways to spend a Monday night. At least there was AC and running water at Toyota Center.
Openers Cheap Trick were louder than I had imagined them in my head. They are one of those bands who are not done justice by the half-dozen or so singles that get played on classic-rock radio.
They are in fact pretty raunchy and metallic, so I guess I wasn't paying attention to that copy of In Color lying around my house when I was younger. The Trickers run with the same lineup, save for touring drummer Daxx Nielsen now handling Bun E. Carlos' duties.
Yes, he's guitarist Rick Nielsen's son.
The twin opening attack of In Color's "Hello There" and "Big Eyes" showed off the band's thunderous capabilities. I may be off base (you'll let me all know) but Cheap Trick seems to have been a tad lost to the ages, even unsung.
The amount of hooks inside each of their songs, plus the sneer of Robin Zander, helped birth a lot of the hair-metal stuff in the '80s, if not the whole of pop-rock to come after. Plus, they were goofy. Zander's white leather "Dream Police" outfit was a big hit of the night, too.
I remember being young and seeing Cheap Trick album covers and being weirded out that stereotypically hot rock gods Zander and Tom Petersson would let Carlos and Nielsen hang out with them, even though Nielsen in actuality was a hot-shit player. Monday he must have thrown out about a thousand guitar picks into the rows up front. I have a pick somewhere at home from Nielsen and I had never seen them live until last night.
Did Cheap Trick best Aerosmith? Probably. OK, yes. But did Aerosmith give 'er a good try? Oh yeah.
Opening with "Draw the Line" was a nice vintage change from the band's last two Houston dates, which began with "Eat the Rich" and "Falling In Love (Is Hard on the Knees)" respectively. Start with the old shit, that's what they really want, though I liked hearing "Rich" at the time because it coincided with a personal foible.
Guitarist Joe Perry and Tyler got on better last night than I had seen them in the past three years. Tyler actually sounded a sight clearer than he had too, amping up his Janis Joplin act to the Nth degree.
The band played two new tunes from their upcoming November release Music from Another Dimension!, the first being vintage-sounding Aero "Oh Yeah," which makes me sad they let teams of songwriters and producers in on their creative process.
Yeah, it's probably leftovers from a session three decades ago, but at least it's not "Legendary Child" which smacks of tepid latter-day Aero. It would have been on an imaginary album after Get a Grip but before Nine Lives.
The Aeros' set list (below) ignored the semi-modern stuff, save for "Livin' on the Edge" and opted for three songs from 1976's Rocks, with "Last Child", "Rats In the Cellar" and "Combination" coming out to play. Great choices, and that album could benefit from its own tour.
We didn't need another live run-thru of "Pink" or "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing". You can tell when the band enjoys their own company when they don't subject us and themselves from the likes of... those.
The jam sessions lasted a few minutes too long, and there was a heavy emphasis on bass, with Tom Hamilton getting the lion's share of the attention for most of the night when Perry wasn't wrenching something out.
Personal Bias: I guess I like watching men old enough to have fought in Vietnam who also look like the shop at Forever 21 play songs that my parents lost their virginity to. Guilty as charged.
The Crowd: I could copy and paste any description from the last thousand classic-rock shows I have been to and be correct. Plus, girls with implants who were born when "Crazy" was still on MTV hourly.
Overheard In the Crowd: The older gal in front of me got an ever-loving kick out of "LICK ME" being written on the bottom of Tyler's mike stand. I mean, how outrageous!
Random Notebook Dump: Tom Waits' "Big In Japan" playing over the arena PA after Cheap Trick left the stage made for a fun rock geek moment. Get it, because the Budokan is in Japan? Fuck it, here's the Wiki link.
CHEAP TRICK SET LIST
Hello There Big Eyes California Man (The Move cover) On Top of the World Ain't That A Shame (with Aerosmith's Brad Whitford) I Know What I Want Stop This Game Sick Man of Europe Surrender The Flame I Want You to Want Me Dream Police Goodnight
AEROSMITH SET LIST
Draw the Line Love in an Elevator Same Old Song and Dance Livin' on the Edge Oh Yeah (Brad Whitford Solo) Last Child (Joey Kramer/Steven Tyler Drum Solo) Rag Doll The Peter Gunn Theme (Henry Mancini cover) Combination Stop Messin' Around (Fleetwood Mac cover) What It Takes Legendary Child Come Together (The Beatles cover) Rats In The Cellar (Tom Hamilton Bass Solo) Sweet Emotion Walk This Way
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Dream On (Steven on piano) Train Kept A-Rollin'