Aerosmith concert at the California Mid-State Fair stirs up memories
Halfway through Monday”s Aerosmith concert, I had a sudden vision of a high school gym.
Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” hit the airwaves in August 1998, just a month after Michael Bay’s “Armageddon” rocked the box office. By the start of my senior year, the slightly cheesy power ballad had become hugely popular.
“I Don’t Want a Miss a Thing” represented romance for the teen set, the kind of undying affection shared by roughneck Ben Affleck and driller’s daughter Liv Tyler. As students swayed to the song at that year’s homecoming dance, they vowed that nothing — not Bruce Willis, not the U.S.government, not even an asteroid the size of Texas — would stand in the way of their love.
That memory came rushing back to me Monday as I watched Aerosmith perform under a full moon at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. And for about half the fans packing the Main Grandstand Arena — many of them sporting Aerosmith tour T-shirts and, in one case, a jean jacket with frontman Steven Tyler’s face painted on it — I imagine the experience was the same.
The evening’s entertainment kicked off with a solid set by indie band PK. (The Central Coast band got the gig via an online contest sponsored by KZOZ, 93.3 FM.) After a brief break, Aerosmith took the stage and brought the crowd to its feet with an energetic rendition of “Love in an Elevator.”
Aerosmith’s playlist spanned the whole of the band’s lengthy career, from 1970s hit “Sweet Emotion” to 1990s tunes “Cryin,’” “Pink” and “Livin’ on the Edge.” The four-time Grammy Award winners only played one song from the past decade — “Baby, Please Don’t Go,” off of their 2004 album, “Honkin’ on Bobo.”
A tan, thin Steven Tyler handled most of the high-octane vocals, exuding confidence as he grabbed a mike stand draped with his trademark scarves. He sported a long black coat, a semi-sheer black shirt, tight yellow pants and a long, flowing multi-colored scarf — as well as a top hat, which he quickly doffed after the first number.
Lead guitarist Joe Perry, is black hair sporting a dramatic shock of white, took control of the mike at one point for a bluesy number, possibly a cut from his 2009 solo album “Have Guitar, Will Travel.”
Perry also cracked a joke about the video game “Guitar Hero Aerosmith,” which lets players test their prowess against the guitarist ranked 48th on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists” list.
“People come up to me and say, ‘I beat you at the game,’” Perry told the audience. “What would would you rather see: the game or the real thing?” He then launched into a blistering guitar solo, matching his computer-animated avatar move for move.
Wrinkles and grey hairs not withstanding, Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton looked roughly the same as they did Aerosmith’s heydey. But rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford and drummer Joey Kramer showed more obvious wear and tear than the rest.
Keyboardist Russ Irwin also joined Aerosmith for a few numbers.
A video screen behind the band served served as a visual mainstay during the relatively frill-free show. On-stage special effects were limited music videos, colored lights and dry ice.
Aerosmith made up for the lack of pyrotechnics with a solid sound worthy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Although Tyler sounded froggy at times, Perry played his heart out — at one point picking a white guitar sporting the likeness of his wife, blond beauty Billie Perry.
After about two hours of radio-ready rock hits, Aerosmith left the stage — only to return minutes later for an encore. The band played trio of earlier songs: “Dream On,” “Walk This Way” and “Toys in the Attic.”
“I love it when you do this,” Tyler told the exuberant crowd.
I feel that I can speak for the rest of the audience when I tell Tyler: “We love it too.”
For those of you missed Monday’s concert, here’s what Aerosmith played.
- “Love in an Elevator” (1989)
- “Falling in Love (Is Hard on My Knees)” (1997)
- “Eat the Rich” (1993)
- “Pink” (1997)
- “Livin’ on the Edge” (1993)
- “Janie’s Got a Gun” (1989)
- “Last Child” (1976)
- “Cryin’” (1993)
- Joe Perry song
- “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (1998)
- “Sweet Emotion” (1975)
- “Baby, Please Don’t Go” (2004)
- “Draw the Line” (1977)
- “Dream On” (1973)
- “Walk This Way” (1975)
- “Toys in the Attic” (1975)
Above image by Tribune photographer Nick Lucero.
No related posts.