Despite all the rumours of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler going country, the musician gave Vancouver a very rock-based performance at the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday, July 10th. Sure there were aspects that were more countrified than fans are used to, especially given that Tyler was backed up by The Loving Mary Band. But was it an overtly country show? No. After an extremely lengthy opening monologue by Tyler himself, onlookers were assured that he was not leaving Aerosmith, and that “There is no one I love more than Joe Perry.” It is entirely common for rock stars to take on a country swagger in later years of their career. Luckily, Tyler seems to have retained a strong rock/country balance with his live performance even if he has not with his new album We’re All Somebody From Somewhere.
“This is a little side project,” said Tyler. “Okay, not so little.” While Aerosmith fans may be disheartened that Tyler is performing without his long-term musical brothers, this solo endeavour is extremely Aerosmith-heavy. Not only that, but his setlist was riddled with Beatles, Tiny Bradshaw, Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin covers. If this is the only way that fans can see the iconic rocker perform for the time being, it is not that bad. Tyler’s voice was spot on, and in his cheesy but typical way he pranced around the stage with a microphone stand covered in colourful scarves. With hair always blowing in the wind thanks to numerous stage fans, Tyler was literally “shaking [his] ass” to the lyrics of opener “Sweet Emotion.” “Cryin’” had a bit of a country twist on it, but of course it was anything from his new solo album We’re All Somebody From Somewhere that had the most grass roots. These were few and far between though, and not a single concertgoer could complain about that. After a career of hits, it is no surprise that the hits are a must-have, even if said hit-maker has gone solo.
Tyler’s relationship with the audience was fun and inclusive: “Don’t cross your arms man, just let it loose,” he told one stoic audience member. What Sunday was all about was Tyler singing the music he loves the way he loves. From Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” to Fleetwood Mac’s “Rattlesnake Shake,” Tyler reminisced on his early days in the music business and his peers. His rendition of “Come Together” by the Beatles got a huge sing-a-long reaction from the crowd. But it was Aerosmith classics “Dream On” and “Walk This Way” that reminded the crowd at the Orpheum why they were there to see the 68-year-old performer. Tyler is fun, carries the show with ease on his own and can belt out the lines as well as he ever could. As he said in his opening monologue, “I’m going to rock until I drop.” While snippets of his country songs were not total hits with the audience, his performance quality was high and the evening was nothing but fun.