Back in 1983, I saw Aerosmith and it remains the worst concert of my life.
Guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford had ditched the group. Singer Steven Tyler was a mess. It was but one valley in the band’s decorated and tumultuous 40-year career.
They regrouped, got clean and exploded again in the late ’80s but never shook drama. Several shows last year — including two in Florida — were cancelled after Tyler sustained injuries falling off a stage. Then reports surfaced he would be replaced. (Yeah, dream on). As recently as last week, rumors swirled about Tyler replacing Simon Cowell as a judge on television’s “American Idol.”
Nobody knows what will happen next with this band, but on Monday night in Sunrise, “The Bad Boys from Boston” rocked again like the all-time greats they are.
This wasn’t a show to promote a new album as much as it was to promote the Aerosmith brand. No new music, just a rebuild-the-fan-base summer stint.
They opened with “Train Kept A-Rollin” into “Love in an Elevator.” The set list was a gem for all fans, no matter when you came aboard. “Last Child” and “Draw The Line” stoked the die-hard fans while the women swayed slowly and sang along to “Cryin’” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”
The oldies and rarities ignited the crowd. “One Way Street” from the band’s 1973 debut album was a scorcher. Even Whitford, the epitome of low key, ripped out a solo. After Tom Hamilton’s brief bass solo, he stood at the edge of the catwalk and began the instantly recognizable opening riff to “Sweet Emotion.” When Joey Kramer pummeled his snare drum with machine-gun steadiness for the song’s ending, the place went wild. The mammoth lighting system went into overdrive as Perry shredded away, guitar between his legs.
Tyler exuded his trademark frontman prowess with unbridled energy and shameless moxie. Who else can pull off white pants, a glittery full-length robe, scarves, bracelets and leopard print-decorated fingernails with such bravado? He had a noticeable yet not displeasing rasp at certain vocal ranges but was never hesitant to reach for — and nail — the high notes.
Sure, Aerosmith has a deep catalog of fist-pumping rock songs, but the blues is in their blood. Perry sang “Red House” while he and Whitford put on a blues guitar clinic. “Baby, Please Don’t Go” from Aerosmith’s 2004 blues cover album was the band at its finest: loud, gritty and soulful.
“Chip Away the Stone” and “Dream On” were the first two encores. The two hour band-fan reunion ended with all arms in the air for “Walk This Way.”
Let’s hope they keep doing so.
Chris Bradshaw is a Bonita Springs-based concert photographer who loves to shoot the show. He’s covered local bands in tiny smoke-filled bars, U2 in a sold out stadium and everything in between.