Aerosmith: Hammersmith Odeon, London

ONE GIRL standing in the ladies queue typified audience expectations. Have you ever seen Aerosmith? “No. I don’t think I’ve even heard them.” Then why did you come? “My husband wanted to come.” Has he heard Aerosmith? “No it was just something to do.”

Finally the house lights darkened as a ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’ type dramatic theme blasted out of the huge PA. There was no unfolding lotus stage. I wasn’t expecting to know any of the numbers but they kicked off aggressively with ‘Helter Skelter’, Stephen Tyler dressed in the poor man’s Yves. St. Laurent jump suit, pouting and strutting for all he’s worth. Guitarist Joe Perry has the Keith Richard imitation down perfectly, complete with menacing profile and bent knees.

Perry works close to the back of the stage with Charlie Watts – whoops, Joey Kramer – pounding in his ear. During the second number Mick – sorry, I mean Steven – played harp. When Tyler and Perry come together to sing, visually they look like miniature Jagger and Richard dolls. If they sang out of tune they’d be perfect.

Tyler is a better Jagger than he is a Rod Stewart. When he’d put his hair behind his head in mock Britt Ekland style the effect was embarrassing as was his rather immature use of the mike stand, decorated with long flowing scarves. Sometimes he’d turn his back to the crowd, standing in front of Charlie’s drum kit, shaking ass.

While Tyler and Perry look like identical Glimmer twins, the rest of the band could smoothly fit into Status Quo. Guitarist Brad Whitford looks like a cross between Noddy Holder and Davey Johnston while bassist Tom Hamilton should be in the Sweet. Drummer Kramer favours the John Bonham school of subtle (??) drumming.

Visually, Aerosmith parody the Stones quite limply but musically they present a weird assortment of Led Zeppelin riffs and mysticism, Status Quo simplicity, and Alice Cooper aggression.

Aerosmith are almost too well rehearsed. Tyler knows all the tricks from the Jack Daniels manly, rock star swig to the ability to arouse an audience. When Tyler says clap, they clapped. But it took telling the security men down front “To fuck off” before the kids broke loose. Jagger employed the same technique at Wembley three years ago and it worked a charm. But then Jagger followed it with ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and ‘Brown Sugar’. The best Aerosmith could do was a bastardised version of ‘Train Kept A Rollin’ that would probably make Jeff Beck puke.

They left the stage exactly 65 minutes after their arrival. Even Geoff Barton admits Aerosmith will never be the Rolling Stones. For starters, they ain’t funky. Aerosmith could never play ‘Hot Stuff. But they could possibly do a fair ‘Whole Lotta Love’.

Now the kids just loved them. Aerosmith are the first fullbodied classic British rock ‘n’ roll band of the seventies. And they’re American. Star quality – ten. Presentation – ten. Content – four.

Still, if it was nearly midnight, cold, and I’d waited 12 hours to see these men, I’d have gone home.

© Barbara CharoneSounds, 23 October 1976

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