Steven Tyler has temporarily traded in his tasseled unitards for cowboy boots, but don’t think for a moment that a change in musical genres has softened the hard rocker. The Aerosmith frontman shook up the Orpheum Theatre last night with a show that was a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, and a whole lotta fun.
Tyler was here promoting We’re All Somebody From Somewhere, his first album as a solo artist. His switch to honky tonk is a bit of a head-scratcher, especially for on-again/off-again bandmate Joe Perry who recently said that “Steven is in Nashville doing whatever he’s doing. He’s got a rhinestone cowboy hat going ‘yippee ki yay’.”
There were actually no rhinestone hats in the building last night – Tyler stuck to his traditional uniform of skin-tight jeans and scarves, both for his neck and for his microphone stand. But there were plenty of “yippee ki yay”s, stories galore, and lots and lots of cursing.
“Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll!” he proclaimed at one point. “Because no great story ever started with anybody eating a salad. Am I fucking right, or what?” The 68-year-old rocker took his fans on a sentimental, expletive-filled journey through his four-decade long career, and dusted off some classic rock anthems in the process.
Tyler took the stage at 8:15 pm and called rumours of Aerosmith’s impending doom “bullshit” before he even sang a note. He chatted amicably with the audience for a good 10 minutes and spoke warmly of “brother-in-arms” Joe Perry, who collapsed during a concert of his own last night in New York (Tyler made no comment, likely because news of the incident broke while Tyler was on stage).
He insisted several times that the “country stuff” was just a “side project”, a relief to fans who prefer his same ol’ song and dance, so to speak. Tyler did his best to peddle his upcoming Kentucky-fried album and sang the title track with so much passion that he appeared to have cut his famous lip on his microphone. But the new stuff sort of fell on deaf ears.
“What do you think, is there a future here?” he asked after the particularly painful “Red, White & You”. The response? A resounding “whoa, doggie”.
Thankfully, Tyler kept the twang to a minimum and fans hoping for a hoe-down were instead treated to a good ol’ fashioned Aerosmith concert for the better part of the night. He opened with “Sweet Emotion” followed up by “Cryin'”, which Aerosmith recorded at BC’s Little Mountain Sound Studios in 1993. “Vancouver was beautiful to us,” he said to huge cheers.
The singer has been rearranging his setlist from city to city, a strategic move that kept us glued to our seats for the duration of the show last night (we didn’t want to miss a thing, you see). He skipped his beloved Armageddon theme but gave us a double-dose of Beatles’ covers courtesy of “I’m Down” and “Come Together”. The singer also paid tribute to Janis Joplin and told us about hearing her version of “Mercedes Benz” for the first time.
“I heard it on the radio and went ‘who the fuck is that?’ She was as good as it gets”.
The party continued with rocking versions of “Dream On” and a particularly naughty version of “Walk This Way” that had fans gently head-banging in the aisles. He wrapped up with a haunting take on “Janie’s Got A Gun” and a raucous version of “Train Kept A-Rollin” from 1974’s Get Your Wings, keeping us in the palm of his hand until his last rebel yell at 10 pm.