Aerosmith Brings Sweet Emotion to the L.A. Forum
Since reopening earlier this year after a major refurbishment, it seems that every week there’s another classic artist back at the Forum in Los Angeles, rattling rafters and liberating all the rock ‘n roll ghosts from decades ago. In just the last few weeks, Kiss, Def Leppard, Cheap Trick, Boston have all held court, and while more contemporary artists have also been filling the storied arena, there’s something almost poetic about veteran musical warriors returning to the scene of thrilling battles past. When the Aerosmith caravan rolled in on July 30, the time-traveling experience was facilitated by a series of vintage MTV videos that were projected behind the band. But in terms of special effects, that was about it.
Aerosmith remains a fairly no-nonsense arena band. While they still boast one of the most flamboyant and wildly charismatic frontmen in the form of Steven Tyler, Aerosmith has never strayed too far from the formula that put them on top in the first place: rootsy, bluesy, swaggering odes to love, lust and high school drama.
After a solid opening set by former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash (with Myles Kennedy and Conspirators), Aerosmith ambled out to kick things off with ‘Back in the Saddle’ from 1977’s ‘Draw the Line’ album. The Aerosmith show is a passionate jukebox of both hits and deep cuts. While ‘Love in an Elevator,’ ‘Cryin,’ and ‘Livin on the Edge’ may appeal to a slightly younger fan that came of age with this band on MTV in the ’90s, for many in the house it was the teeth-cutting classics that brought everyone to their feet.
‘Toys in the Attic,’ ‘Kings and Queens,’ ‘No More, No More,’ and ‘Lord of the Thighs’ are still all played with sweat and fervor, and when actor Johnny Depp came on stage to add some guitar to ‘Big Ten Inch Record,’ it reminded everybody that it still hip to like Aerosmith.
Drummer Joey Kramer, bassist Tom Hamilton and guitarist Brad Whitford comprise one of the most well-oiled and rock solid rhythm sections in the world. Then you have Joe Perry, still a snarling scarecrow of a man that plays with a beautifully dangerous and stinging charm. He will always come off as a casting director’s idea of just what a rock star should look like, act like and feel like in front of 20,000 people. Sinewy and snakelike, Perry’s no-nonsense sneers are the perfect counterpart to his main partner-in-crime’s flowing excess and rainbow-gypsy charms.
Coming out in a skintight white leather ensemble with the ever-present feathers, jewelry, rainbow hair extensions, endless scarves, streamers, hats and other costume pieces, Steven Tyler has solidified his place as one of rock’s grandmasters of performance and presentation. Hopping, skipping, sashaying and strutting across three different ramps, he truly seems to understand the old-time concept of American vaudeville. He delivers just what people expect of him and then some; striking poses and connecting hundreds of times throughout the evening.
Who knows how long the Aerosmith juggernaut will roll on? But while they are here, it’s hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to take part in one of the greatest ongoing legacies in music history. Beyond just the nostalgic memories of where you were the first time you heard such muscular and durable classics like ‘Dream On’ and ‘Sweet Emotion,’ there is also the thrill of watching five musical brothers deliver a very real and raw tour de force that lays to rest for good the premise that rock ‘n roll is just for the young. No effects, tricks or gimmicks. This is just Aerosmith – and it doesn’t get much better.
Photos from the Aerosmith / Slash Concert at the Forum in Los Angeles, July 30, 2014