Alpine Valley Music Theater
August 16, 1997
Story by Tony Bonyata"These guys are the greatest band in the world!", screamed a slightly bleary eyed fan. His blond girlfriend didn't say anything but shook her body to the music as if in full agreement with his statement.
Photos by Phil Bonyata
While Aerosmith may have a hard time filling the bill for "the world's greatest rock and roll band" (a moniker which fits the Rolling Stones like spandex pants whenever they're on the road), they did prove, however, that after 12 studio albums, countless world tours and previous drug and personnel problems they still have what it takes to satisfy a mob of rock-hungry fans.
Last Saturday at Alpine Valley Music Theater lead vocalist Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry lead the band through a plethora of catchy arena rock anthems and high school beer party standards. Tyler's long streaked hair flowed behind him as he shimmied and sauntered across the stage as the band blasted into "Love In A Elevator" and their latest hit "Falling In Love (Is So Hard On The Knees)", from their new album Nine Lives. Some of their other more recent hits like "Livin' On The Edge", "Ragdoll", "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" and "Janie's Got A Gun" had a tight and glossy sound and saw Tyler and Perry sharing the same microphone and giving each other brotherly nudges that was reminiscent of the on-stage interplay between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Stones.
Although these songs were all sound classics, it was their older material from the '70's that really got the crowd moving. Albums such as Get Your Wings, Toys In The Attic and, arguably their strongest work, Rocks defined a generation of rebellious, white suburban youth. Now approaching their late thirties and early forties a good portion of that youth came to hear these gems.
As Tyler slinked around the stage parading his trademark mike stand draped with multi-colored scarves, Perry, clad in a black silk suit, produced an effective slide guitar sound in "Same Old Song And Dance" which also showcased some outstanding bass-work from Tom Hamilton. On the laser-light drenched "Dream On" the audience joined in the light show by illuminating the grassy hill with thousands of twinkling lighters in the air.
"Well since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell", Perry oozed out as he took over lead vocals on a timely cover of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel". Aerosmith also gave a nod of appreciation to another great act, Led Zeppelin, as they broke into the dizzying instrumental section of "Dazed and Confused" (complete with thunderous John Bonham-like drumming from Joey Kramer) in the middle of their own bump-and-grind masterpiece "Sweet Emotion".
The band gave it's strongest performances on "Last Child", a take-no-prisoners rock assault in which Perry and Brad Whitford traded off chugging guitar riffs back and forth, and on the be-bop rock of "Big Ten Inch Record", where Tyler blew an impressive harp as well as showcasing his strong return-to-form vocals.
Opening for Aerosmith was the just barely 16 year old blues 'wonder-kid' Jonny Lang. This lanky blond-haired kid from Minnesota, along with his four accompanying band members, put on an absolutely powerful, albeit much too short, performance as he shot into blistering versions of his hits "Lie To Me"and "Hit The Ground Running".
Clad in just black pants and a white tank-top, Lang stood cocksure behind the mike as he projected his gravelly, low, soulful voice and smoking-gun guitar licks into the funkified blues number "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and the laid-back "Darker Side". He also payed homage to every modern blues guitarist's mentor, Jimi Hendrix, on his cover of "Spanish Castle Magic".
With their colorful stage antics and classic rock numbers, Aerosmith delivered everything that the audience came there for that evening, but it was Jonny Lang's youthful, raw talent that spilled all over the stage of Alpine, that left you wanting more.
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