(As published in the Times of Acadiana ... )
You know a quarter-century-old hard-rock band is confident when instead of opening a concert with one of its twenty guaranteed-to-please top-forty smashes it opens with the title cut of its latest album--Nine Lives in this case--the way Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer did last Monday night in the Cajundome.
And while nothing inspires confidence like having twenty top-forty smashes, having a really cool stage doesn‘t hurt either. Despite losing on points to the current stages of Kiss and Prince (whose recent Cajundome appearances raised the concert-going expectations of Lafayette music lovers to a new high), Aerosmith's red totem cats, green cobras with glowing red eyes, and many fog and light gizmos certainly trounced the poor-man's-Laserium that was the Smashing Pumpkins sole visual gimmick when they rolled through town not long ago. And when three more green cobras inflated to colossal proportions during "Sweet Emotion"--well, let's just say that Steven Tyler's big ten-inch (record) didn't seem like such a huge deal after all.
About the other top-forty smashes: "Love in an Elevator," "Fallin' in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)," "Hole in My Soul," "Livin' on the Edge," "Pink," "Rag Doll," "Janie's Got a Gun" (to this day, the most hummable NRA endorsement ever), "Last Child," "Crazy," "Dude (Looks like a Lady)," "Walk This Way"--all of them got the full treatment. No short-cut medleys for Aerosmith, no sir. The fellows even threw in non-hits from their golden age ("Same Old Song and Dance," "Mama Kin"), their new album ("Taste of India"), and their website ("Fallin' Off").
And anyone who still thinks the group's eventual enshrinement in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame isn’t a foregone conclusion wasn't paying attention during "Dream On." No sooner had the band's mysterious Sixth Man, Russ Irwin, begun playing the song's intro on his electric keyboard than everyone stood up like church folks hearing the "Hallelujah Chorus." Irwin, by the way, enshrouded in shadows stage left, not only played keyboards all night--replicating the songs' occasional horn charts on the synthesizer--but also sang the harmony vocals on every song, played maracas, and clapped. In terms of sheer quantity, he contributed as much if not more to Aerosmith's sound than any one of the group's five official members.
Of those five, Joe Perry easily won the Eleganza Fashion Award. In his custom-tailored Mafia suit (black shirt, black blazer, black pants, yellow tie) he proved that no tattooed and nipple-ringed rocker can hold a candle to a sharp-dressed man. It’s a lesson, alas, that poor Tom Hamilton, with his mismatched crummy T-shirt and shiny black-leather pants, has yet to learn. (At least as the drummer the sleeveless-T-shirted Joey Kramer has an excuse.)
And speaking of poorly dressed 'dome dwellers, someone should have a word with the pretty little thing who, two-thirds of the way back among the floor crowd, climbed onto her boyfriend's shoulders and got topless. That she apparently mistook the Cajundome in September for New Orleans during Mardi Gras speaks volumes for Aerosmith's party-band credentials. Why she waited until the last encore had ended and the lights had come up, however, is anyone‘s guess.
The topless chick aside, the band's biggest fans were the four or five electric ones planted on-stage among the monitors to keep a constant gale blowing on the band, a gale that kept them from sweating themselves to death and that also allowed them to look as if their hair were being blown by unseen winds--Vinnie Barbarino's first-rule for looking good, incidentally, as told to Arnold Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter, the most popular show on TV the first time Aerosmith was back in the saddle again.