Frank Erwin Center

Thursday, December 4

It's most certainly the scowl, but one expects Joe Perry to be surly -- mean as a snake. He's not. He's just a regular joe from Boston. Guess looks are deceiving, right? Yes, and especially in the case of Aerosmith, who, going on three decades now, have been dubbed the American hard rock equivalent of the Rolling Stones thanks to their musical set-up (five-piece with two guitars), and because Perry and Steven Tyler, the band's guitar/singer-songwriting axis, so resembled their Stonesian counterparts, Jagger and Richards.

"That used to piss us off," says Perry, "because our music wasn't like the Stones. We were stealing from other people, not them." No, not the Stones. For Perry, it was always Led Zeppelin.

"Yeah. I'll listen to the second Zeppelin record, and go, `Wow! Listen to that.' Or the new Zeppelin CD that's just come out -- the BBC one -- and I'm thinking back to when I first heard them, y'know. Jimmy Page hung the moon."

There is one thing Aerosmith and the Stones hold in common, however -- something they hold in common with every "old guys tour" out there, whether it's Fleetwood Mac, John Fogerty, or Prince: The almighty set-list. Top 40 hits only, which in the case of Aerosmith means power ballads like "Rag Doll" and "Crazy" not hard rock gems like "Lick and a Promise" or "S.O.S."

"Bottom line is we're there to entertain our fans," says Perry. "We're not there to educate them as to the depth of our catalogue. I would rather see the audience cheering and flipping out over `Rag Doll' than playing `My Fist Your Face' and having them all just stand there, `Oh, what the fuck song is this?' If we're gonna throw in something esoteric, it's gonna be from Nine Lives."

So we're never gonna hear "One Way Street"?

"Well, you may," he pauses. "We do throw those in 'cause people wanna hear `One Way Street' or `Lord of the Thighs.' When we played in Seattle a couple of weeks ago, [Alice in Chains guitarist] Jerry Cantrell came up on stage and he wanted to play `Sick as a Dog.' We said, `Which song out of all the Aerosmith songs would you want to sit in on?' And he said, `"Sick as a Dog," no question.'

"All I'm saying is that we don't do that all night. I wanna see people get off on `Cryin' and god, we play `Dream On' every night. We've played `Dream On' on every gig we've ever done. The reaction is still the same: Whether we're in Germany or here in Vancouver, the lighters always come out."

-- Raoul Hernandez

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