November 8, 2012
Chesapeake Energy Arena
Oklahoma City, OK USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Vernon L. Gowdy, III
Aerosmith - "Global Warming" Tour
Spectacle to Expect the Unexpected
Here is a simple fact of life. If you're a true music fan, and haven't seen Aerosmith in concert, then it's time to renounce your love for rock and roll. Attending one of their performances is literally a rite of passage that millions of people have undertaken over the past five decades. And trust me when I tell you an Aerosmith show is one of those spectacles where you can always expect the unexpected. Tonight was no exception.
I cheerfully admit I've had a 38-year old love affair with Aerosmith. Not ashamed of it either. My graduation from wimpy pop to true rock occurred when I was 17 years old. The second concert I ever attended as a high school senior in Indianapolis was the Aerosmith Get Your Wings tour with Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush opening the show. If there ever was a moment in time to literally acquire your rock and roll 'wings', this was a great tour to get initiated on.
I was thinking about that experience as I made the three-hour pilgrimage from Dallas to Oklahoma City. I was also reliving other Aerosmith concert moments I had witnessed throughout Jam Magazine's history with the band. It included a barely audible Steven Tyler too high to remember the words to songs, tours without Joe Perry, the clean and sober years in the '80s, the fall from grace and memorable contentious moments that always embroil Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry. They aren't called the Toxic Twins for nothing. As recently as a year ago, the band was looking for another singer to front the band. But here they were again, one big sort-of-happy family on the road once again.
Aerosmith is definitely a "train kept a rollin'" through the sheer determination and will of the unsung heroes of the band, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton. This formidable rhythm section did what they always do on tour, stay in the background and hold the fort down as Tyler and Perry bask in the spotlight. Brad Whitford quietly goes about his job as one of the great unheralded guitar players in rock that Perry is quite fortunate to have as his sidekick.
The evening festivities began with an hour long show by Cheap Trick. There were two missing ingredients tonight from this Rockford, Illinois band. One was drummer Bun E. Carlos. He was replaced on tour by Daxx Nielsen, son of guitarist Rick. The other failing component was Robin Zander's voice. For some reason, the high notes just weren't making their way out of the singer's mouth like they had in the past. You would think after 38 years of singing, Zander's voice was not only battle tested but in excellent shape to kick off the second leg of the Global Warming tour with Aerosmith. Other than something to write about, the vocal problems really didn't matter. The singing from the Oklahoma City crowd filled in the missed high notes. The band put on an excellent show, and ended it in rocking fashion with their four biggest hits, "The Flame", "I Want You to Want Me", "Dream Police" and "Never Surrender".
The Chesapeake Center was roaring to go when the lights went down and the elder statesmen of rock - Steven Tyler and Joe Perry - popped out of the floor to perform Aerosmith's most enduring song, "Mama Kin" off their 1973 debut. The show would be bracketed during the encore from the other hit on that album, "Dream On." In both instances, the appreciative crowd sang their hearts out.
I don't think anyone is surprised how well Aerosmith has survived its family feuds. They have survived every cycle of music thrown at them. They have battled through every way to deliver their music from LP's to eight track, CD's and now online distribution. Frankly, I'm surprised Steven Tyler doesn't have a Twitter army under his command that he can instruct to purchase the band's new album, Music From Another Dimension. Three songs from the disc, "Lover A lot", "What Could Have Been Love" and "Oh Yeah" made it into the show, but were spread out enough they didn't interrupt the flow of the performance.
One of the odd moments of the show occurred toward the end when Tyler called out American Idol mainstays Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest to join him on stage for the Beatles' "Come Together". The two were in town to film the second round of auditions for the talent show. About 100 contestants from the OKC July auditions were selected to come back and perform for the judges. It just so happened to coincide with Aerosmith being in town.
One especially poignant moment in the show was the opening segment of "What it Takes" from the 1989 Pump album. This vocal masterpiece begins with Tyler singing the first verse a cappella, then belting out his signature scream before the rest of the band kicks in their part. At age 64, the singer's voice has held together amazingly well, and this crowd showed its appreciation by roaring their approval.
Aerosmith pretty much stuck with the music they created in the '70s and '80s, which suited this crowd just fine. Certainly there were songs missing people wanted to hear, like my personal favorite "Seasons of Whither" and the band's other signature classic, "Janie's Got a Gun." And then "Back in the Saddle" was missing, as was "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." Those were trivial matters to consider as the band closed the evening's show with "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk This Way."
The encore saw Tyler literally rising to the occasion as he rose from underneath the stage in front of a white grand piano playing the intro to Aerosmith's true iconic hit, "Dream On." I don't care how many times I've heard that song throughout the many years it has been a radio staple, I just can't stop singing that song with Steven Tyler. Fortunately, he was able to hit the ridiculous high note I couldn't even fathom approaching. The night would finally end with the appropriate, "Dude, Looks like a Lady" where Joe Perry got the final word in with a very nice guitar solo.
Frankly, I'm surprised and even more grateful, that Aerosmith has survived its own trials and tribulations to become the America's one true rock and roll icon. Yeah, there's Bruce Springsteen who's hung in there with his core unit, but he doesn't have the turbulent history that has endeared him to music lovers like Aerosmith has. Every time you thought this band was about to be buried in the rock and roll graveyard, they resurrected themselves to become whole again. For new and old fans alike, we're ever so grateful.