Aerosmith: Santa Monica Civic, Los Angeles

AEROSMITH ARE in Los Angeles doing a series of small hall back-to-the-people gigs.

Last time they played local was before 300,000 people at last month’s California Jam (recorded for a live album due out around summer). Last November they played to 40,000 fans during two sell-out nights at the Forum, and in ’76 to 50,000 at Anaheim Stadium. Tonight’s venue, the Santa Monica Civic, holds 3,000. They would have played the 500-seater Whisky, but sensibly decided in favour of staying alive. Aerosmith fans have this odd tendency to want to tear their heroes apart.

“The finest show on earth,” announced the Emcee as lighters and matches lit up round the hall in tribute, and the band strode onstage in a flash of red light. I would not put this band in quite so superlative a category, but it wasn’t a bad show. They seem to play so much better in a small-hall situation (it appears that they think so too; future policy should mean a few such warm-up shows before every major tour) and I’m sure I’m not alone in preferring gigs where you can see as well as hear the band – a rare event in a country where the Hammersmith Odeon is thought of as virtually a club-sized venue.

Steven Tyler is in especially good form. Looking like a Mick Jagger kewpie doll, and stomping round the stage twirling a ribboned microphone like a demented cheerleader, he screams out with a striking, sensuous voice. It’s so loud you can hardly make out the songs (especially as they run into each other with barely a pause for applause) and hardly distinguish the voice from the instruments.

It’s a good night for the rest of the band too – high-speed, sturdy drumming from Joey Kramer, throbbing bass from Tom Hamilton, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford play well together, and the new keyboardist is a well-chosen addition to the band. For the most part the music is tight and integrated, though at times the fuzzy sound was irritating and the lack of pacing overwhelming.

Still, needless to say the audience of very dedicated heavy metal aficionados enjoyed every moment, applauded every note, drooled at the new tunes and went ga-ga at the old ones, pressed up against the stage when they weren’t trying to jump it, and generally had a good time.

It wasn’t a long set (was that a look of relief on a few journalists’ faces?), a little over an hour, and after one encore the lights came on and that was that. Songs of the show: ‘Rats In The Cellar’ and ‘Sweet Emotion’.

It was OK but if I’d had to queue up all day for tickets with my box of Kentucky Fried, I’m afraid I’d have expected more.

© Sylvie SimmonsSounds, 13 May 1978

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