By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
Let's build the case right now: Aerosmith has a lot to answer for. Start with those horrible bandana-bedecked mic stands, the ones that every lame blues-metal chump imitated throughout the '80s. Move right along to their central role in the dubious fad of rehab rock (i.e., debauched rock stars pulling the platinum syringes out of their arms to lecture the rest of us that drugs are bad). Finally, point to their musical output for the last ten years, seemingly made up of nothing but car-commercial jingles and action-movie "love themes," and any jury in the land would convict.
But they'd be wrong. The cheap fun of Aerosmith's classic '70s singles endures yet, despite it all. The band was never better than when Steve Tyler and Joe Perry made like low-rent Yankee knockoffs of Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page, making up for in "sex" and "drugs" what they may have lacked in "rock & roll." The classics are legion: the pulsing "Sweet Emotion," the mock-Zep drama of "Dream On," the just-plain-rockin' "Toys in the Attic" -- all as irresistible as they are derivative. Even their dried-out '80s megahits are good for a giggle now and then, especially "Rag Doll" and "Dude Looks Like A Lady."
Then things hit a bad patch from which Aerosmith may never truly recover. Lured by those damnable temptresses of Hollywood and TV advertising, the 'smith (do people call them that?) not only sold their music to whoever fancied it -- worse, they started writing songs that sounded like ready-made commercials. And it appears that, on this current tour, the balance of their set list tilts toward the dreaded "newer stuff." But the rewards, for the patient, will be many -- after all, no matter how sprightly and detoxified these guys seem now, they won't be able to shimmy their way through "Mama Kin" forever.
Oh yeah -- a very overrated '70s novelty band shares this bill with Aerosmith. Known as Kiss, they enjoyed a few schoolyard hits back in their prime, but flimsy songwriting and lousy drumming make those songs little more than period nostalgia pieces. Unlike Aerosmith, Kiss doesn't have to worry about how the fans will like their new material -- they've wisely chosen not to write any in years.