Aerosmith, Dropkick Murphys rock for Boston

A review of Aerosmith, Dropkick Murphys at the Comcast Center on June 16, 2009

, Managing Editor

Another band has hit the road this summer delivering one of their albums end to end before live audiences. This time it’s legendary Boston-bred rockers Aerosmith. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers are working on new material but have decided to play their 1975 classic Toys In The Attic. Fellow Rock Hall of Famers ZZ Top are touring alongside Steven Tyler & company but local heroes the Dropkick Murphy’s filled in for the bearded ones Tuesday at the Comcast Center. With a hometown& lineup like that, this show was capable of being the best concert of the summer. Remarkably, the show didn’t even sell out, nor did it quite live up to its full potential.

A giant curtain bearing the Aerosmith logo dropped to the floor revealing the band as the first few bended notes of “Train Kept A Rollin’” blasted from the elaborately designed stage. A walkway surrounded the entire stage, wrapping around the drum kit while a runway jetted out into the audience which Tyler and Joe Perry made good use of. The stage set also included several huge screens and lights that were even more nomadic than Perry and Tyler.

The band continued to warm up the fans with some of their greatest hits including “Cryin’” and “Love In An Elevator”. Steven Tyler made a valiant attempt at the screeching part in “Cryin’” but it’s no surprise that years of strain and his recent surgery has left him with a slighter version of one of the greatest voices in rock history. Age may have taken a toll on the group but though their skin may be looser, their playing is just as tight. Tyler and Perry can still work an audience as well. The legendary guitarist was the star of “Elevator” as he soloed on the runway behind a smokescreen with an eye-catching lime green guitar.

Tyler got the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to Joey Kramer before “Jaded”. "Dream On" followed and Tyler sounded great as he still managed to hit the high notes but perhaps needed a break after that as Joe Perry took over the vocals for the rarely played “Combination”.

It’s hard to pick a favorite Aerosmith album but most likely Toys In The Attic is amongst most fans top choices. The raunchy blues-rock that the band is rooted in was on full display as they tore through the record. On “Walk This Way” Tyler walked every way himself, as he strutted along the stage-surrounding walkway and later would get the crowd waving their hands on the runway. Funny vintage black & white dance videos appeared on the screens for the classic blues jam “Big Ten Inch Record” as the band threw in some key blues ingredients by way of harmonica, piano, and guitar solos.

Next it was bassist Tom Hamilton’s time to shine for “Sweet Emotion”. However, Joe Perry stole the show as he played guitar with one hand and a Theremin behind his back with the other before the outro. Fellow guitarist Brad Whitford was not with the band as he’s recovering from surgery so Steven gave him a shout out before the band played the Whitford-penned “Round & Round”.

After they completed Toys Aerosmith finished the evening with a few hits, but unfortunately began by selling out like a Sox game at Fenway. During “Livin’ On the Edge” an animated Joe Perry from the "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith" video& game appeared on the screen, firing off some computer generated licks to which the real Perry cheesily replied, “So, that’s the way it’s gonna be?” A ridiculous guitar battle went on between the two for an awkward and unnecessary minute before the band got back into “Livin’ On the Edge”. Perry somewhat redeemed himself with an interesting move at the end of “Draw the Line” as he laid on Kramer’s drum kit and held his guitar up for Kramer to play with his sticks, although the move looked cooler than it sounded.

Aerosmith returned for the encore with the Dropkick Murphy’s to play the Boston-ode “Dirty Water”. This should’ve been a genuinely cool moment but ended up disastrous as Dropkick’s singer Al Barr sang the first two verses into a microphone that wasn’t working. It didn’t pan out well but it’s the thought that counts. Luckily, the night didn’t end on a down note as Aerosmith finished their set with their fantastic cover of “Come Together”.

It was weird to see Aerosmith go after “Come Together” because in total they only played about an hour and a half. Although the set length was about average for a concert it left one wanting a bit more, especially for a hometown show. Perhaps, Tyler’s vocal chords cannot handle the strain of anything longer. While he sounded as solid as possible throughout the evening, perhaps his voice may have gotten shaky if they went any further.

The Dropkick Murphys’ own set faired much better than their time with Aerosmith as they excited their spirited fans that mostly took residence in the Comcast Center lawn area. Beach balls flew through the air as fans sang along to DKM classics like “Warrior’s Code” and “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced”. A cover of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley” got some of the older crowd into it before the crew from Quincy brought out the Boston College marching band for the jigging finale of “I’m Shippin’ Up to Boston”.

Although the night didn’t live up to it’s “best of the summer” potential, there were plenty of moments to make it a wholly enjoyable experience.

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