"Legends. Icons. Idols." These are the three words used to describe Aerosmith on their official website. The self-praise continues: "Dynamic in the present; as cool and innovative now as they were thirty years ago." Expectations were high as approximately 20,000 people packed into the Grand-Falls Windsor Salmon Festival venue this past July to witness one of the world's "legendary" bands musically astonish them. When the band finally hit the stage, people were reportedly not disappointed. The Scene Magazine referred to the concert as "a truly surreal experience for those in attendance." As videos were posted on YouTube, users proclaimed their satisfaction with the show. Indeed, the showmanship was certainly present, and their stage presence was irrefutable.
Dressed in his usual eccentric drapes, lead singer Steven Tyler flung the microphone stand around in a carefree, endearing manner and, during the encore, sang from atop his piano. As well, Joe Perry played the guitar in some unconventional positions. For concertgoers, the gimmicks were fun, and much appreciated.
About a month after the concert, I found myself questioning the positive reception of the concert. What about the "bones" of their set? What about the music? When it came down to it, Aerosmith more or less played their way through their greatest hits. Many must have loved it, as singing along (perhaps even while intoxicated) was surely a breeze for the band's devoted fans. My impression, however, was that the show was generally uninspired. There were no 12-minute, extended versions of notable songs, and there was otherwise no "wow" moment that made me truly appreciative of what I was witnessing. To me, it was a by-the-books performance which was centred more on the band's reputation than on actual content. Perhaps they have earned that right; each of the five band members is 60 years old or older, and they have been active together since the early 1970s. The lavish self-praise, however, negates this right.
Despite the fact that Newfoundland has begun to attract more big ticket bands, I do not believe that I am simply becoming – for lack of a better word – jaded. In recent times, many bands have performed shows which left me in awe: Weezer, Big Sugar, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and The Sheepdogs are a few examples. These bands performed a combination of classics and creative, extended variations of songs which showcased their respective musical talents. Each show felt personal, as though it was more than just another stop on the tour; they brought something more to the table than simply studio-like recordings with a bit of humorous banter as a transition.
Live music is entirely subjective. We all see a different concert, and various factors can change one's experience. But I believe that if a band is going to refer to themselves as "America's Greatest Rock Band" (see their new single, "Legendary Child" on YouTube), and "as cool and innovative now as they were thirty years ago," they had better bring their best to each and every show. The Aerosmith concert was enjoyable, but not legendary.
Scott Eaton is an honours history student at Memorial. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.