Two kinds of Aerosmith fans flouted Mother Nature's wrath Friday night to see the Bad Boys from Boston rattle the very foundation of Long Island's Jones Beach with ZZ Top: Those that wanted to hear the Beantown band's collection of hits, and those who clearly appreciated the inclusion in the nearly two-hour-long set list of some deeper album cuts. The majority, and the minority. It was clear which fans belonged to which group, based simply on what opening notes inspired them to spring forth from their seats and shake what the Lord gave 'em, and which ones sent them in search of $7 hot dogs.
The band's decision to devote more than half of its set to one album (1976's Toys In the Attic, which they played in its entirety, and in epic fashion) would have been more risky, and perhaps even alienating, had they not kicked off Friday night's show with powerhouse performances of familiar classics like "Train Kept A Rollin'," "Cryin'," "Dream On" and "Love In An Elevator," or closed out the evening with an effective cover of the Beatles' "Come Together." Regardless, Aerosmith did prove, yet again, that they can rock it like they did in their 20s.
While the night's opening festivities were handled dutifully by ZZ Top, whose feedback-generating set featured "Give Me All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man," "Legs," "Cheap Sunglasses" and a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" (as frontman Billy Gibbons, in all of his bearded glory, introduced the song, a series of lightning bolts performed an arterial dance across the ominous, cloud-covered night, at the exact moment Hendrix's name was uttered),Â it was Aerosmith these poncho-donning cougars and soccer dads came to see.
Lanky frontman Steven Tyler, dressed in skin-tight silver pants and a purple blouse, appeared to be in great spirits, and the band's fog-machine-heavy performance was relaxed, yet tight. "I must be Jonesing," he joked, at one point. Tyler's voice sounded crisp, and his energy matched the night's seizure-inducing stage lights, with him scampering across the stage, wielding his mic stand like a mad man, as though it were an actual extension of his own body. The ultimate frontman, Tyler engaged the crowd flanking both sides of the catwalk constantly, tossing his harmonica to them after "Ten Inch," and at one point, grabbing a rose one fan had given him, then stuffing it in his mouth, chewing it up, and spitting out the petals.
The band took time to recognize the passing of Michael Jackson, dedicating its performance of "Combination" to the late King of Pop, and this segued nicely into Aerosmith's Toys In the Attic treatment.
Aerosmith ripped through the title track, "Uncle Salty" and "Adam's Apple" before launching into "Walk This Way," which had the entire joint dancing in place; Tyler even had record producer Mark Hudson sing a few lines from the front row. "Sweet Emotion" was proceeded by the bluesy "Big Ten Inch," and then the band delivered a mammoth rendition of "No More, No More." Before the first notes of "You See Me Crying," Tyler turned to his daughter, Liv, who was offstage, and said, "I'm doin' this for you, Liv." As the song's final notes faded, he blew her a kiss.
The band closed its main set with "Draw The Line," and disappeared for less than two minutes before returning for the night's one and only encore. Guitarist Joe Perry, who had performed a Theremin solo at the close of "Sweet Emotion," took center stage, and dueled it out with his "Guitar Hero" counterpart on his Les Paul, defeating his pixilated persona. Everyone sang along with the band for "Come Together," a perfect way to cap Aerosmith's thunderous performance.
Aerosmith Set List:
"Train Kept A Rollin' "
"Love In An Elevator"
"Walkin' The Dog"
"Toys In The Attic"
"Walk This Way"
"Big Ten Inch Record"
"No More No More"
"Round And Round"
"You See Me Crying"
"Draw The Line"
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