Aerosmith played their first concert since the start of the pandemic Sunday night at the Maine Savings Amphitheater in Bangor, Maine. It was also their first public appearance since Steven Tyler finished up a stint at drug rehabilitation. Here’s video of opening song “Back In The Saddle” shot by a fan stationed right near the front of the stage.
The set was packed with Aerosmith standards like “Rag Doll,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” “Sweet Emotion,” and “Love In An Elevator,” but it also contained their first cover of the Shangri-Las classic “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” since 2017, and their first rendition of the Nine Lives deep cut “Full Circle” since 2013. They wrapped up with Seventies standards “Dream On,” “Walk This Way,” and “Big Ten Inch Record.”
Prior to this, the band last performed February 15, 2020 at the Park Theater at Park MGM in Las Vegas, just days after drummer Joey Kramer returned to the band following a very bitter period of estrangement. The pandemic forced them to indefinitely delay their Deuces are Wild residency in Vegas, and they didn’t get back on the road in 2021 when most rock tours resumed.
“Nothing’s gonna happen for a long time,” guitarist Brad Whitford on Joe Bonamassa’s podcast Live from Nerdville in June 2021. “I mean, I have my doubts about Aerosmith ever really performing again at this stage because age is becoming a real factor. And it is what it is.”
Aerosmith proved that Whitford’s doubts were a bit off in March when they announced a resumption of their Vegas residency, with opening night slated for June 17, but two months later they pushed the date back so Tyler could head to rehab. “As many of you know, our beloved brother Steven has worked on his sobriety for many years,” the band wrote in a statement. “After foot surgery to prepare for the stage and the necessity of pain management during the process, he has recently relapsed and voluntarily entered a treatment program to concentrate on his health and recovery.”
All of the delays ultimately added up to longest period of time Aerosmith have kept off the stage since their formation in 1970. During their break, Joey Kramer announced a “temporary leave of absence” from the band. “[Kramer] regrettably made the decision to sit out the band’s concerts in 2022 so he can focus his full attention on his family during these uncertain times,” the band said in a statement to USA Today in March, noting that drum technician Jack Douglas would perform in his place. “He and the band look forward to his future performances with Aerosmith.” (Kramer’s wife, Linda Kramer, died June 22 at the age of 55.)
Aerosmith are resuming their tour September 8 with a hometown show at Fenway Park in Boston. They return to Las Vegas on September 14 for a long run of shows that wrap up December 11.