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Steven Tyler, left, and Joe Perry of Aerosmith perform in Vancouver. (Jeff Vinnick/Jeff Vinnick for the Globe and Mail)
Steven Tyler, left, and Joe Perry of Aerosmith perform in Vancouver. (Jeff Vinnick/Jeff Vinnick for the Globe and Mail)

In Concert

If it was Aerosmith's last, it was a blast Add to ...


  • At Rogers Arena
  • in Vancouver on Thursday

If Thursday night's Vancouver concert was Aerosmith's last, the band went out with a bang: an over-the-top, gyrating display of rock and roll excess. In a good way.

But whether the Vancouver show - the last on their current tour - will enter into the rock and roll history books remains unclear; rumours of the legendary band's impending death may have been greatly exaggerated.

The squabbling between lead singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry took on new life in August after the two bumped and Tyler fell off the stage at Toronto's Air Canada Centre. But despite reports their differences (along with Tyler's apparent role as an American Idol judge next season) could mean the end of the band in its current formation, there were indications on Thursday of some harmony among the Boston rockers.

Maybe it was all a show for the sake of the show, but Tyler was deliberate about making the point: He repeatedly threw his arm around Perry (who displayed varying degrees of receptiveness to the gesture), whispered in his ear, and the two frequently shared a microphone: most poignantly when performing an early Aerosmith hit, a cover of the Beatles tune Come Together. Shades of Lennon and McCartney.

Later, Tyler asked the audience to participate in a video they're planning to put up on YouTube marking what would have been Lennon's 70th birthday in October. "Happy Birthday John!" the crowd roared.

"If it wasn't for John Lennon, we wouldn't be here." Tyler said.

They may be aging rockers (seriously: how many bands - reunion tours don't count - can tell stories on-stage about something that happened in 1976?), but Tyler seems ageless. He did not look ridiculous strutting about in (very) form-fitting silver pants and a long, shimmery purple jacket (which he later traded for a flowing white linen number, going shirtless underneath). He did not sound ridiculous performing his trademark high-pitched shriek. For the most part, he sounded fantastic. And at 62, he still oozes the rock and roll charisma.

"Don't you get quiet on me, Vancouver!" he ordered.

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith performs in Vancouver.

He had nothing to worry about: On hits including Love in an Elevator, Cryin' and Walk This Way, the crowd - the middle-aged demographic was well represented - delivered: singing along word for word, adding to the electricity in the place. There were even some Bic lighter sightings.

Joey Kramer's elongated drum solo featured a remarkable ending: He threw his drumsticks into the audience and continued on, using his hands - and head. (Ouch.) Kramer's son performed with the band for part of the encore.

The night was not perfect. The cheese factor on the already sappy ballad I Don't Want to Miss a Thing was upped as scenes from the movie Armageddon rolled on the video screen behind the stage. Sure, the song comes from the soundtrack and the film of course starred Tyler's daughter Liv, but this was a complete - and much less cool - departure from the edgier video material offered the rest of the night.

During Livin' On The Edge, for example, the video screens featured shots of modern day disasters: Hurricane Katrina, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Mumbai terror attacks.

And while Perry's Guitar Hero bit was fun - and the crowd loved hearing that Vancouver is his favourite Canadian city - things slowed noticeably when he took over from Tyler at centre stage.

But for the most part, Thursday night was a rocker's dream, beginning with the moment opener Joan Jett and the Blackhearts took the stage, belting out Bad Reputation.

More than three hours later, Perry got the last word of the night - and the tour - giving fans, perhaps, some hope: "We'll see you next time."

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