Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. Photo by Pete Strojny

Aerosmith, Still in the Saddle"

By Jason Koerner

"I drove 6 hours to see you!" read the sign that I saw immediately after getting out of my car at the show. Aerosmith was "Back in the Saddle" again after a long overdue visit to Louisville's own Freedom Hall on December 9. Sunshine Promotions can really get the big acts here in town, also bringing in Seven Mary Three as the opener.

Formed officially in 1971, Aerosmith has come a long way in the difficult business of rock & roll. This was the most crowded concert I have been to, and it shows the amount of fame the band still holds today, even after 20+ years together.

Far from the days of "Walk This Way," we came to the "9 Lives" World Tour. The arena grew dim and the crowd's cheers overpowered the sound effects of "cat meows." The unmistakable silhouette of Steven Tyler was seen through the curtains, and the feedback swelled to screeching levels. A fiery explosion ignited on-stage as the band rushed out and took the show!

In his trademark clothing style of "anything obnoxious," Tyler was sporting a neon green top hat (a la "Cat in the Hat"), an orange drape around the shoulders, and the classic, striped Spandex pants. Definitely fashion show material. The stage was lined in theme-oriented designs, complete with 6-foot-tall cats and snakes, with which Steven made himself "quite" acquainted throughout the show! The drums were spinning in circles, as was Tyler's microphone from time to time.

Alternating the old and the new stuff, the band realized the crowd took more fondly to the old. "Oh, you like the old s**t, huh?" was the remark posed by Tyler after an amazing performance of "Dream On" and Joe Perry's steel guitar solos on "Rag Doll." All the classics were played, but the new material came across as something of a "buzzkill" to the audiences' aura of high energy. Unfortunately for the band, when you make such a high name for yourself with your classic hits, it is hard to outdo was has already been done with your new songs, regardless of their quality. They recovered the intensity with newer favorites like "Eat the Rich" (yes, he even burped at the end), "Pink" (complete with matching color stage lights and Steven's harmonica skills) and "Don't Wanna' Miss a Thing" (from the Armageddon soundtrack).

Joe Perry got his moments to shine, too, with numerous solos, one of which left him on his back until he was rested enough to keep going! He also sang his version of "your brain on the blues." Proving his dancing talent, the famous "Angus Young kick-step" was exhibited!

As expected, the crowd pushed for more after the "Thank you, goodnight!". The encore consisted of "Toys in the Attic," a half a cappella version of "What it Takes," and "Sweet Emotion." Oh, and the routine spitting of water like a fountain into the eager crowd too! "Was it as good for you as it was for me?" Of course it was, Steve.

Despite my lack of long-time-loyalty to the band, such as is my interest in Aerosmith; Seven Mary Three proved to be versatile, tight and energetic. Having three guitars opens a number of doorways to attain remarkable sounds and harmonies, instead of your usual "3 power chord" songs. I was most impressed with the killer solos from the lead guitarist; yet the entire band put on a great performance. Hats off to them.