October 14, 2002
Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheatre-Atlanta
As an opener, even Kid Rock satisfied me tonight. Not being a fan of his
music, I wasn't expecting much, but his gritty personality and genre-bending brand of rock
was the perfect complement to the headliners. Appropriately foreshadowing the night by
opening with Led Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll," Kid Rock's "Metallica meets up
with Dr. Dre and goes drinking at Bocephus' place" attitude and ability had something
for everyone in the crowd. "If I were president, I'd have Skynyrd on every radio
station," he declared. The middle-aged long hairs and Southern burn outs raised their
beers and roared. The rednecks went even crazier during a faithful cover of Waylon's
"Dukes Of Hazzard" theme song. When he slammed into a fire laden "American
Bad Ass" (based on Metallica's "Sad But True"), the twenty-somethings lost
The power ballad "Only God Knows Why" raised lighters and soothed the savage breast before he literally leaped into a medley of music from his homeland in Michigan that featured crowd-baiting, flag flying, highly aggressive versions of "We're An American Band" and "Kick Out The Jams." To round out the generational appeal by winning over the last of the doubters (mostly 13 year old males with close cropped, dyed hair), Rock rapped over a snippet of Eminem's "My Name Is" that deftly led into his show stopping "my name is KIIIIIIID" scream that kicked off a killer version of "Bawitdaba" that found the whole stage covered in flames. Punctuating his pronouncement with the deafening thud of a concussion bomb, the man made a strong argument in favor of his own once questionable validity. Kid's hit making days may already be over, but this show proved that he could hold his own... even against the direct competition of "America's greatest rock and roll band." What a night!
Okay, I admit it. Aerosmith is America's greatest rock and roll
band. It's been hyped that way for years, and I've always scoffed at the tag. I was never
convinced by the shows I saw and the band's latest power ballad hits sure didn't make the
case for 'em. Tonight, however was different. The guys came out swinging with a triple
shot of "Toys In The Attic," "Back In The Saddle" and "Same Old
Song And Dance" that epitomized every rock cliché and triumph in about ten minutes
time. Seeing Steven Tyler bring his scarfed mic stand over to share with the surprisingly
buff Joe Perry flashed my mind to a thousand different rock and roll pinups.
The slippery low end of bassist Tom Hamilton merged with the punching percussion that Joey Kramer was pumping out. Along with the interwoven blue notes and power chords of guitarists Perry and Brad Whitford, the band was the sonic equivalent of guzzling down too much of an overly carbonated, ice-cold cola on a 105-degree day. Aerosmith stung and was cool as hell. Of course, what can you say about front man Steven Tyler? He can take would-be schmaltz like "What It Takes" and turn it into a "preach on" moment. As an intro to "Pink," he led the band through a stripped down blues as he wailed on his harmonica. The man sang better in Atlanta than I've ever heard him on record. In the middle of the performance, from a second stage in the middle of the lawn, he screeched out the high parts in "Dream On" with unheard of conviction. How can anyone sing a song for thirty years and feel it that much? On top of this, Whitford, Hamilton, Kramer and Perry were collectively Tyler's equal. Everything was perfect, but better, rawer, more live. "Just Push Play" is semi-flaccid on the overly produced album of the same name, but here it sounded as vital, sexy and menacing as the classics that surrounded it. They even almost overcame the saccharine overload of their (egad!) only #1, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing." Luckily, there were way too many highlights to let that necessary evil spoil the night for me. "Big Ten Inch Record" smoked.
The snowstorm that blew off of the lawn stage during "Love In An Elevator" was super cool to see. Joe Perry even instantly overcame my "what a rip off" thoughts when he busted out the theramin at the end of "Sweet Emotion." Perry did it with such gusto, I forgot that he was stealing directly from his hero Jimmy Page. After closing out with "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)," the Bostonians encored with more fiery ferocity. After a head cutting version of "Draw The Line," Tyler took on James Brown's "Mother Popcorn" as the band jammed behind him. Eventually, this segued into an expectedly killer version of the greatest riff and beat of the past 30 years. The final farewell of "Walk This Way" contained just as much, if not more, venom as their opening number. Aerosmith never let up. Just when you thought they'd be "slowing it down a bit," they amped it up even more. It was beautiful. Also, I personally have to give them bonus points because early in the show when thanking Georgia for all that it had provided the world, Steven Tyler sandwiched "Thank you for R.E.M. and the Athens music scene" in between mentions of Little Richard and Jimmy Carter. This was one of the best shows of the year.