Aerosmith at the 3Arena, Dublin on 14 June 2017.
Monsters of rock Aerosmith rolled a great wall of amplifiers into 3Arena as their farewell tour Aero-Vederci Baby! Hit Dublin. Now approaching their seventies ‘the bad boys of Boston’ have decided to call it a day, a mere 44 years since the release of their eponymous debut album.
For most, having never driven all night to get Aerosmith tickets like Matthew McConaughey’s character in Richard Linklater’s 1993 coming of age movie ‘Dazed and Confused’, the original import of Aerosmith has disintegrated, as has their vibrant comeback in the age of MTV.
However, Aerosmith have outlasted many music trends and technology. This is reflected in a through-the-years video introduction to the evening, that highlights their career achievements with classic photos, Rolling Stone covers, Walkmans, Discmans (who remembers those), CDs and other formats that their music has outlived, shown on screen.
Setting this against the highly clichéd danger music O Fortuna, set the tone for what was to come. It didn’t take Aerosmith long to unleash the four elements of a classic rock show – wind machines, dry ice, fire and guitar solos.
Perry and Tyler unexpectedly emerge on stage from beneath a walkway that juts out into the crowd and bash straight into Let the Music Do the Talking and Young Lust, putting the aforementioned wall of amps through their paces, with the volume cranked to the appropriate level.
However, throughout much of the show the sound mix is terrible and Steven Tyler’s voice struggles to fight its way to the forefront of the din of amps and drums. At times it’s hard to tell whether his powerful, trademark voice is shot or not – the encore performance of Dream On, which Tyler begins solo on piano, proves his voice is far from shot.
But perhaps the soundman should be.
Love in an Elevator was an early highlight. Indeed, most of the material from 87-96 is a step above. But Aerosmith don’t do themselves any favours by deciding to play at being Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac for 10-15 minutes with Stop Messin’ About and Oh Well, with Joe Perry on lead vocals.
Inexplicably, there are four covers in this set – including, it has to be said, a fine version of The Beatles’ Come Together and a mediocre version of James Brown’s Mother Popcorn – but nonetheless the question has to be asked: Why play other people’s songs on your farewell tour; when the fans have come to hear you play the hits?
The set lurched as sound issues persisted and it all went momentarily Spinal Tap during Jazz Odyssey as bassist Tom Hamilton was brought forward for what was meant to be his moment in the sun, a solo preamble into classic track Sweet Emotion. If ever there was a moment to dispense with the theatrics and just play your most beloved bassline, straight and true, it was now. And what a riff it is and when the band kicked in. It was one of the only moments we witnessed the legendary power of Aerosmith.
Blockbuster movie fare Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, was similarly somewhat of a lifeboat, before the main set finished with a solid one two of Come Together and Dude Looks Like a Lady.
Strong words must have been exchanged backstage, because when Tyler re-emerged at the piano for the encore much of the preceding issues had been resolved. A brief preamble of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow was absorbing as Tyler displayed the Olympic standard vocal gymnastics he is renowned for.
And things improved even more as Tyler weaved his way into Dream On. Aerosmith delivered the kind of performance you’d expect from a monster of rock, with Joe Perry taking a solo from atop of the grand piano, later joined by Tyler to belt out the closing bars with dry ice exploding into the air on the final high note.
Though it was amusing to see Tyler singing through a loudspeaker; sadly, the set crashed back to earth with the aforementioned James Brown cover. Thankfully, the night ended on a high with classic track Walk This Way. Tyler, busting out all the appropriate moves one last time, before the show finished in a hail of dry ice, confetti and wind machines.
What a pity. This gig had everything but the sound. Aerosmith were clearly putting the work in on stage. Tyler and Perry both displayed considerable stagecraft, with Tyler often providing comic relief to Perry’s guitar onslaught. It’s hard to believe that somewhere beneath this poorly mixed din, a much better gig wasn’t struggling to exist.