AEROSMITH with LENNY KRAVITZ at the Air Canada Centre, November 18. Tickets: $59.50-$119.50. Attendance: 17 000. Rating: NNN
In the movie Dazed and Confused, a bunch of stoned kids dig Aerosmith so much that they make it their mission to road-trip it for tickets to their concert cuz they're, like, such a bitchin' band. That movie took place 30 years ago.
So I was justified to suppose that I'd be seeing a band way-y-y-y past their prime. And having a solid warm-up act like Lenny Kravitz isn't such a smart idea if you're hoping to rock the crowd's socks off afterwards.
Kravitz most definitely did bring the rock. So what if his music borders on lifeless and vapid? When it comes to playing live, the man and his band (including fantastic drummer Cindy Blackman ) know how to work a crowd so well that it kinda negates all that clichéd hippy love-child bullshit.
Kravitz knew what everyone wanted and went through his radio-friendly hits like Always On The Run and Let Love Rule with enough panache and showmanship to satisfy his hungry-eyed lady admirers. The only real eyebrow-raiser came when Kravitz brought two fans onstage to do their best girls-gone-wild dirty dancing while the band grooved on a raunchy slow jam. Totally tacky and just a little bit creepy, although no one seemed to mind.
His closing number, a feisty version of Are You Gonna Go My Way, set the bar pretty freakin' high for the aging headliners.
The excessively elaborate stage set-up, including two extended walkways going into the crowd and all the lights and video screens, made you feel you should be witnessing some grand rock spectacle. But after a lengthy and completely pointless intro movie montage (picture thousands of people going crazy after hearing a pre-recorded Steven Tyler asking them if they're "ready"), the band launched into their set with about as much energy as seniors at a walkathon, with frontman Tyler looking almost shy.
It's not like they were sloppy or anything, but shit, man, a little effort goes a long way. The band briefly perked up with the Run-DMC-less Walk This Way, even though Tyler sounded tired and out of breath.
Not playing it completely safe, the band threw some of their lesser-known bluesy-rock numbers between the big hits, and by the time they broke out Cryin' and Livin' On The Edge, they looked like they'd finally hit their stride. Both Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry made good use of the walkway extensions, getting right up on the crowd, but you can only see Tyler ham it up by dancing like some embarrassing drunk uncle at a wedding so many times before wondering what else the man has to offer.
That and the band's attemp at performance suicide by having Perry do a number from his solo album should give you an idea of how very average the whole night was.
Maybe they don't have the fire in their bellies any more. Or, judging by the insultingly expensive $45 T-shirts, they may just be in this one for the cash.