“ONE LOUD 2 1/2 HOUR RIFF”
BY LAURIE JOHNSTON
THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA
JULY 31, 1978
Sunday night at the Winnipeg Arena Aerosmith finally made the local scene after several abortive attempts. Judging by the audience response the jury is still out on whether it was worth the wait. About 7,000 fans responded reasonably well to the super group but only a hard core element was wildly enthusiastic.
An Australian basic hard rocker called AC-DC led off the show and this AC-DC swings one way only: hard. The group makes no claim to an ability to present any facet other than the “rock me and sock me, never goin’ home” approach to its craft. The band lays down an almost impenetrable blanket of sound, the weight of which is only infrequently lightened by a lead guitar lick denoting something more thoughtful than pound, pound, pound.
Attention-getting, certainly, is the lead guitarist’s costume of Buster Brown suit complete with blouse, short pants and a school satchel slung over his shoulder. As the set progressed he divested himself of all but the shorts, finally being carried through the audience on the vocalist’s shoulders, riffing all the while, as the security men formed a blocking wedge around them. The group displayed limited ideas and a similarity of material that was mind-boggling. AC-DC may be current but it really doesn’t generate a very large charge.
After a lengthy intermission, lightened by the neat catching and toss-back of an errant Frisbee by an adept and friendly Winnipeg constable
(the crowd gave him a rousing ovation), Aerosmith arrived. Their appearance was heralded by an attractive panoply of shifting, brilliantly colored spotlights, their radiance was reflected effectively by the curtain of smoke which was so thick by this time that it was almost impossible to read the “No Smoking” signs.
Steven Tyler on vocals likely sings as well on stage as he does on vinyl. But who can tell? Joey Kramer’s drumming is so over-amplified that for the first time in memory I couldn’t hear the electric bass, let alone the singer. Tyler works very hard but his awkward and inept attempts to be cool and sexy in his handling of the floor mike constitute a parody of the rock singer In full flight.
Not too many rock groups last eight years with no personnel changes. Some don’t last eight weeks. Aerosmith is the exception and one would expect this continuity and stability to provide an assurance which would permit intelligent programming.
But to follow a heavy metal group like AC-DC with an only slightly more sophisticated dose of the same, smacks of disinterest, an acute lack of awareness or utter indifference to the audience’s sensibilities.
There wasn’t a change of tempo or melodic note in the whole show. With five platinum records to their credit the fellows know what they’re doing in a recording studio, and the resultant albums do offer contrasts in material and style. So why the compulsion to blow us away on every number when in concert?
Such rumination has caused me to invent a new descriptive term. Many adjectives have been applied to rock in its infinite variety. We are all familiar with bubble gum, teeny hopper, hard-edge, heavy metal, acid, folk, jazz, country and pop rock, among others. My contribution is to describe Aerosmith’s brand, based on last night’s showing, as “barbed wire rock”, inasmuch as it’s strung out, of high tensile strength and bespattered with many tangled barbs of sound.
The audience seemed to display a certain ennui as the waves of sound washed over it. There was much coming and going and a demand for an encore which was less vociferous than that afforded the energetic but monotonous warm-up group. Perhaps it was just too much of a good thing. Perhaps the boredom produced by what was essentially one long, very loud riff spread over two groups and 150 minutes got to us. But it was a bit of a drag.
Or could it be that we’ve had such an excellent variety of groups of late that we are becoming increasingly selective? Whatever the reason, Aerosmith’s long-awaited show simply wasn’t the spectacular event we’d anticipated and which their albums would entitle us to expect.
January 13, 1973 Aerosmith
March 1, 1974 Get Your Wings
April 8, 1975 Toys in the Attic
May 3, 1976 Rocks
December 1, 1977 Draw the Line
October 1978 Live Bootleg
November 1, 1979 Night in the Ruts
August 1, 1982 Rock in a Hard Place
November 9, 1985 Done with Mirrors
April 1986 Classics Live
June 1987 Classics Live Vol. 2
September 5, 1987 Permanent Vacation
September 8, 1989 Pump
April 20, 1993 Get a Grip
March 18, 1997 Nine Lives
October 20, 1998 A Little South of Sanity
March 6, 2001 Just Push Play
March 30, 2004 Honkin’ on Bobo
October 25, 2005 Rockin’ the Joint