A Night in Heavenly Valley July 3rd, 2015

July 2nd 2015

Upon checking into our room at the Station House Inn, in South lake Tahoe, we truly found that this little 3 day/2 night ride was in need to be savored, every little sip, like a cold Pyramid Beer on a Hot Summer’s day. The room was awesome! Small, but definitely a few stars more than Mary and I are used too. A welcome sight for sure… And a hot summer’s day it was, with unusually high temps for Tahoe in the high 80s & low 90s, guess I won’t need my Aero Sweatshirt tomorrow night…

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Checking in at the front desk, I asked the lady at the counter, just how far from our room the entrance to Harvey’s Outdoor Arena is? “2 Blocks”, she said. Cool, no need to pay for parking tomorrow night, right?

So, after some awesome window shopping in Heavenly Village, realizing that we probably can’t afford the windows, Mary and I headed back to the Station House Inn to shower up before walking the “2 blocks” to the Hard Rock “CAFÉ for dinner. Then hopefully, back in time for a quick dip into a crisp and clean, seemingly pure un-chlorinated pool. Awwwwww! Who the fuck needs 106 fucking degrees of California Central Valley heat anyway?!?!

Mary and I got dressed and started on our very brief “2 block” walk to the Hard Rock “CAFÉ”… Whoa! New York City blocks’ got nothin’ on a block in the Sierra Nevada! We trekked from, the beautiful beach area of the Station House, and other upscale Motel/Hotels to the middle class working area, through the ghettos, and up through the bowels of Harvey’s Casino Resort, before we found someone who we felt we could approach without possibly losing our lives, or worse mugging us for tomorrow night’s show tickets… 14 hours later we made it to our destination, seemingly starved, and parched  of thirst from our intercontinental hike before dinner, I asked someone just in front of the Business Entrance of Harvey’s Hotel & Casino, who seemed to work there, just “what was the quickest way to the Hard Rock “CAFÉ”?… He gave us directions, which came across as though our journey to the End of the Earth for water and nutrition was only half over. Remembering way back when, weeks ago, when we left our room, I said; “it was better to leave the cane in the room, it’s only 2 blocks…”

So as we continued our walk to Carson City, we found the Hard Rock CASINO, YAY!!!! We entered the thick smoke filled air of another country and traversed the 5 mile long Casino Floor in search of the famed, and now much needed Hard Rock “CAFÉ”, we searched again, and again, all the while looking as lost as 2 penguins on Waikiki Beach, We took a short stroll down the 2 mile long hallway to the Check In counter and asked directions…. A near fatal mistake at this point! “Oh!”  She said, with an odd look of both, pleasure and delight, then she said it; ”The Hard Rock ‘CAFÉ’ has nothing to do with the Casino & Hotel” (silly), no she didn’t say ‘silly’, but she ‘looked’ like she meant it. “The “Café” is a “Block” west in Harvey’s Casino & Hotel”…
Fuck Me!

As we entered the very foreign territory of another smoke filled Casino Lobby, fully dressed in World War II style gas masks, it seemed to me the vampires were out in force already… even before the sun set. Maybe they’re safe here within these walls, given the lack of natural sunlight, but are we? The styles of dress of those here are created in such extreme complexity, designed to both attract and repel at the same time… The looks given to those just passing through, from those who are already bitten, is such an odd combination of telepathic personal messages. One might be from the sense of looking over, as if they are wondering; “when will you will get bit and join their legions, but don’t you dare enter their den!” Another look was as if It was from a sense of both misery and elation combined, and then of course there’s the tell tale sign of pure addiction, giving their money like blood, just to stay in that comfy stool a few more minutes…

When we asked  directions to the “Café”, of the  “Hard Rock” ‘Gift Shop’” attendant (which was in Harvey’s… I know!), we were told to; “Just follow the yellow path, but do not venture off that path, otherwise give in to the dark side, and perhaps never leave what may very well be purgatory…

We followed the Yellow Brick Road past the legions of pale creatures holding glasses upon glasses of very watered down alcoholic drinks, laughing out loud, and yet so insincere you could feel the “fake”, as fake as nails, lashes, and bosoms of the female creatures outside of the path. As fake as the color of the male creature’s hair, and the smiles on their faces showing a whiteness of teeth that is absolutely supernatural, trying to stay just out of reach and pass safely, for some much needed nutrition.

“First left on the golden road, then right, then left again”, the attendant said… Mary drifted off the path for just a moment as bells and sirens alerted the crowd that there may be a new recruit into their clutches. Quickly I reached out for her hand and grasped hers, but she already had a nibble, and was fighting me, but I safely brought her back to the path before she was gone for eternity. Then, there it was… like a beacon in the night. The oasis, the long lost, and very well hidden ‘Hard Rock Café’. We treated ourselves to a fantastic meal of some of the best chain restaurant food in all the land, with a beer for myself, and a Bacon Twisted Shake of ice cream, rum, and many other delightful ingredients for Mary. What a treat this was!

Our stomachs satisfied, we decided to make the long trek back to the Station House for a late swim, and much needed rest from our journey. The pool was so inviting, so soothing, water so brisk on a warm summer’s night in Tahoe, with a Jacuzzi jet on my feet to sooth via aqua therapy, the pains of self abuse away. Funny how times change as we get older. Self abuse was once a taboo, not discussed, not admitted, kept hidden from society. Now it’s openly admitted to the world. The desperate need for surgery, on my feet, the same surgeries as the Front Man on stage tomorrow night, has been under the knife for himself several times. The pains of Nueromas, are something that should NOT be ignored, let alone abused.

After what turned out to be an absolutely beautiful night, and a really fun memory, it was time to look forward to tomorrow. A day filled with feelings of pure elation, very close to what will be perfection, close to ecstasy, a day of pure bliss on, and in a lake made by God for the people to enjoy any way they see fit. A lake as beautiful as the stars on the darkest night of the year, and then a concert I’ve been looking forward to for almost 10 years. A concert to take the place of the one we didn’t see the year before. A concert with 5 guys… 5 original guys, that hopefully have not lost a step,  5 guys that define American Rock n Roll,  5 guys that wrote “The Fucking Handbook” to my life! The same 5 guys that have captured my full attention for almost 40 years… Wait, slow down… Lower those expectations big fella…

July 3rd, day of the show. We woke to the sensual aroma of the Sierra Pines, touched by the soft wetness off a High Sierra deep, but calm summer night’s rain… and of course a different, but similar flavor of “wet” from the lake wafting through the air… We made our way down to the restaurant for a quaint little breakfast of eggs and cakes for me, and French Toast and eggs for the wife. A perfectly served breakfast, with a touch of comfortable ambience, and people ready to enjoy the adventures that the Tahoe Basin has waiting for them.

It was fun to look around the room and guess which groups were doing what, which families were going hiking, which one’s were going zip-lining, or even tubing down the mountain. Which of the people have already taken the gondola to the top of Heavenly and rode their bikes all the way down the ski runs. Which groups were going kayaking, or just swimming in these waters, or even which ones were ready for a fishing trip of a lifetime, even if they don’t get a bite… And more than anything which people were just trying to quench their thirst, their anticipation for the marquee event of the 4th of July weekend on the lake. Like Mary and I, which of these people were trying to fill the time between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM when The Greatest Show on earth takes the stage at the Outdoor Arena on the Lake… Which ones? Who? I think I know…

So, dressed in my best “Nipmuc Regional High School” T-shirt and shorts, and Mary in her Saturday best, we made our way up along the east side of the lake in search of a place only spoke about in legends. A place so pristine, so beautiful “that nobody goes there, nobody shows where” it is. It’s a place that has to be found, there are no directions. Secret to only those In The know. We descended down Highway 28 towards Incline Village, looking for the elusive and secret Sand Harbor Beach… The we saw it! Oh my god! This must be it! We got in line with the other 52 cars who also knew of the secret gem within the diamond, and slowly rolled to the gates, paid our $12 for the privilege of sharing this secret, and through to find parking within a very small parking lot of only 500+ spaces. We found our way to this very secret beach, to find that there were only a few of a 1000 people who knew this secret…

 

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Crowd or not, this place is extremely beautiful, with the California drought in one way showing it’s ugly head, the fine sandy beaches, albeit extremely clean, extended maybe 30 to 40 feet toward the water more than the norm. But on the positive side, it made for more room for heavy crowds, who were there for a day of Bliss & Beauty.

Water for me is like a blood-source. It makes me feel alive…. And the water here, in this pristine place is second to none. It’s lighter than normal, as if it’s got a different type of chemical makeup, more oxygen than usual, I don’t know, but you can feel it. Your skin breathes it! You climb in, dive in, walk in, run in, but in reality it enters you, like a spirit who lives deep within the mountains, a spirit who bathes here, who flies in the clouds above the lake. A kind spirit, a gentle spirit, one that calms your tensions; The “Spirit of Now”. He lets you know that there is only the moment you’re in. She tells you; the stresses of yesterday’s home worries are not present here, the pains of surgery may return, but are not here now. What was before may be here again, but now, is what is now and nothing else.

The water soothes, not only your body, but your mind as you dive under and submerse your open eyes to the peace of silence, and experience, and visually witness your own effortlessly smooth movements and motion. It’s childlike, and yet very ancient. It shows you the clarity of what is beneath the surface. There’s always more beneath the surface…

After a few hours of Pure Bliss, Mary and I were just about ready to get back, get dressed and make our way out and about the town for some dinner before the “Show to End all Shows”! But first, it was time for an impromptu visit with a big sis of mine, and her husband who I was meeting again for the 1st time. They live within 10 minutes of this very beautiful Harbor of Eden.

Had a great visit with Leanne and Bob, short but real nice. I promised I would go to their class Reunion in August for all the classes of the 70s at San Marin High in Novato, although, I never went to school there like 5 of my siblings did…  Might be fun though, to see so many of these other people I knew a lifetime ago, and who have come to know me again, from other social media sources. In fact, from a facebook group dedicated to the small town I grew up in. A group inspired by the 2  songs “Last Child” and “Movin’ Out”.

It’s been a GREAT TRIP so far, and we haven’t even experienced the Event of a lifetime yet…

As we made our way up the road along the cliffs of Highway 28, out of Incline Village, you could see some beautiful vistas. One of which, I swear “The Spirit of Now” called to me. She asked me to stop, He told me to witness this beauty one more time before we head back to the giant Casino district of South Shore… As I stopped, I could hear that familiar voice calling me from the rocks and boulders below… baiting me, challenging me from 300 feet below almost straight down… I listened, I followed, and once again felt that water against me as I scrambled across granite boulders half in water, half out. The water gave me a firm but gentle kiss for luck, and enjoyment of the rest of the day and night, and sent me on my way with full faith that the night’s show was going to be a very, very special show…

 

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As we got back to our room, we immediately starting getting ready for the night to Top all Nights, but first it was time to refresh with little Southern Comfort on ice, and baby, “a double shot is so fine!” Mary dressed in her best “Blue Army” denim Jacket, and me in my new “Sukie Jones / Crazy Horse Saloon” shirt, we were ready to get some grub on, and just enjoy the show. Deciding, after our “Crossing of the Sierras Trek” last night, that it might be best to drive, find a place to park across the street at Harrah’s casino, and enjoy the World Renowned Buffet atop the tower with views of the lake that were enough to make a grown man cry.  Getting out of the elevator on the 18th floor we got ourselves in line with the rest of South Lake Tahoe, or at least it seemed. A little strange, and not quite the dining experience we were looking forward to, we patiently waited the 10 minutes to pay $162.00 for the privilege to wait 25 more minutes, before dinner for 2…

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“Wait, what’s wrong with this picture???” Mary said she wasn’t feeling the “Casino Spillover”, I said; No, let’s get outta here! Got a refund, jumped on the elevator, someone asked what floor; “Lingerie 2nd floor, please!” we hoofed it towards the beach, and found our trusty ‘Hard Rock Café’ right away this time, with only a 35 minute wait. Fair price, great ambience, right next door to the arena, it’s only 5 o’clock, doors to the show open at 6, let’s do this!

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In, and sat down within 15. the General manager comes over and chats with us about life and family for quite a few minutes, dinner comes… again very satisfied, had my 1st beer on top of my “Double Shots so Fine”, Mary and I were now ready for the Pie’ce de  Re’sistance!

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It seemed as though the bell rung for a grammar school recess being over, as a wave of people headed for what seemed to be a very small corral down the end of Harvey’s driveway entrance… as everyone patiently, and some impatiently, aggressed towards the gates and towards security, it was amazing to me just how smooth this was going. It didn’t seem to me that any of the security was interested in much, besides ensuring people got in quick, and we’re going to have an unobstructed good time!

The characters were out in full force, as we have all come to expect over the years. There were the “Amazon-like” tall old very skinny women, in 6 inch heels, that maybe should have given up the lycra look 20 years prior, along with the guys in their ‘Italian Stallion’ best from the 70s, complete with shirts without buttons on the sleeves and no buttons on their shirts except the bottom two, and gold necklaces and earrings to highlight the spray-on tans against the whitest teeth you could ever hope to see. These people didn’t come to watch the show, they came to be the show!

As we entered this very quaint little amphitheater, you couldn’t help but think maybe you’re at the wrong venue. It was so small, but so comfortable at the same time. Set against the backdrop of the Lake Tahoe, the Emerald of the Sierras, dawn over the water with a few pine trees interspersed around but not in front of what will soon be a simply amazing sunset. We decided to get a couple of pops and a souvenir before we took our seats. Unknown to us at the time that Living Color wasn’t in Tahoe, we listened to “The Max Volume Band” entertain the crowd while the crowd for the most part just mingled. There seemed to be a very “local” type of vibe to the majority of people here, almost as if this show might have been just one of the many presentations of a season long program. Cool though, not in a bad way. It gave a very laid back feel to the crowd, an excited-ness, yet not manufactured sense of festivity. It was really cool to see so many people, know so many people. And so many more our age, and younger, and older, both dressed to the nines, and in cut-offs and flip flops, and everywhere in between.

 

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Maxx continued on stage for close to an hour, maybe even a little more, and then he gave a very warm thank you to Bad Boys from Boston, just then did we realize we were watching something extremely cool. The Max Volume Band was just a very local Reno based Bar Band that was given a shot to open for America’s Greatest Rock Band of All Time. They were sincerely appreciative, of the crowd, Harvey’s, The Promoter, and of course Aerosmith and it showed. Class act! And the music wasn’t bad at all. Cool thing…

After not more than 45 minutes, the lights went down, people still mingling in the crowd, the majority of them no where near their seats, although in a place this small, their seats weren’t any farther away than you could spit a watermelon seed on a summer’s day. So with music playing in the background before the lights dimmed, AC/DC, Heart, The Eagles, Quiet Riot, all types were playing. But as silly as it may sound, we were seriously still waiting for Living Colour to take the stage. Even though Max had only “pre” introduced Aerosmith, then we heard it; the opening beats to Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz; “I Get Low”, and we knew who would open to that, and it wasn’t Living Colour! Then the announcer came on; “Please welcome, all the way from Boston, the Greatest Band in the World AEROSMITH!!!

Then the lights!!! The Drums! The guitars! And then in complete Americana, in tune with America’s biggest and proudest holiday of the year, almost as the clock struck 8:00 o’clock, without delay, Joe and Steven rose from the catwalk. Steven dressed as only he could pull off with a red top hat, bright white sunglasses, and a red and white striped blazer, with a pair of black pinstriped sequined pants, and Joe by his side in black pants, a vest, and a bright white shirt, of course no buttons… as Joe does so well, the true brothers they are… they rose together, within the steam and lasers with absolute authority, and an over the top sense of showmanship, that is, and always will be Aerosmith… This party was fucking on!

They started off the show with a song that is just about as Blue Army as it gets. No, maybe not Blue Army in the sense of time and age of songs, but with passion and an Aerosmith message that has been delivered since 1971. “Let the Music do The Talkin’” ripped through the crowd like a rocket on fire on the 4th of July through the night sky! Although I’m more than positive a large portion of this audience had no clue what or, where this song came from, they were dancing and rockin’ from just past beginning to the end!

 

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Joe and Brad immediately lit up the stage with the help of maybe the best light production crew in the business. Every note, every chord was exaggerated by light and laser with pinpoint precision and authority. The guys knew when to blow it up, and bring it down, as good as anyone in the business. They played the music with band, right in tune, only with lights. And Steven… Fuck! Steven!!!

You may remember at this point about the expectations I admittedly lowered for him. The man blew me away from the 1st note! And he would continue to do so throughout the show. Simply amazing me with every breath, every step! Before I get into this too deep about the show, let me say right here; I have been more than just a fan of this band, and this man for longer than most people would think is healthy. I am an extreme fan. I have seen almost everything there is to see on the web, that they’ve done. Of course not everything, but damn close. I have listened intently to them over the years, knowing, identifying the changes that naturally come with age. I have seen every concert I could afford, and physically see within my geographic, and further at times.

Not only the singer, but the band also…. Steven amazed the FUCK out of me! Do not ever think that you can hear reality over the web, YouTube or what! I don’t care what the media source is…  It’s like watching a video of Yosemite National Park, and acting as if you get it! Don’t ever think you’ve heard them, until you hear them. In one sense I’m glad I lowered my expectations, because of the satisfaction I received from what I saw and heard. It simply cannot be compared, and yet, as a lifelong, not just fan, but as a kindred spirit, a True Blue Army Soldier, I’m humbled by what I witnessed. I’m humbled by my own thoughts of what he, and this band could, or could not still do. I AM SIMPLY AMAZED! As a man that has lived through similar ailments, from blown out knees, and absolutely crippling Nueromas, not to mention drugs and other addictions, I was more than impressed, I was motivated and even inspired by his every action and movement. Just as he did in 1976, 1978, 1979, and even through the 80’s and 90’s he inspired me once again, maybe just as much as he ever did.

 

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Forgive me my tangent:

Finishing up “Talkin” with the most gorgeous sunset you could ever see, in the background of Steven’s catwalk presence, Full Dress bedazzled as he was, it was truly a sight for sore eyes.

The band immediately jumped into “Elevator”, and I swear as soon as I heard the boys do it live once again, the song became as new as it was in 1989 when it shot up the charts! Of course changing the lyrics to please the crowd, at least those who love their Aerosmith as raw as whole uncooked eggs in a glass for breakfast; “Jackin’ In the elevator, lingerie 2nd floor, I said can I see you later, and Kiss your fucking ass!” I’m thinking, this very adult Tahoe crowd wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, at least those who know the band beyond Armageddon. You’ll get my point soon. Steven throwing off the sunglasses and Top Hat fairly quickly into the song gave a strong presence throughout the song, singing mostly from the catwalk. The band was pure, and precise and absolutely perfectly on key! Already two songs in, I could see this might just be one of the Top Aerosmith shows I’ve ever seen… Shit, we haven’t even started!

Taking a short break and strolling the whole stage, from the catwalk to main, left to right, Steven took a few minutes while adoring the darker side of the sunset, with the North Star present next to the moon, to say hello to Tahoe, recognize the beauty of this place, and wish the crowd a Very Happy 4th of July, when of course the crowd erupted.

With Joey plowing the way on the cans, and Joe streaming the air with that screamin’ guitar opening, Tom joined in with that absolutely familiar bass line, and they jumped into “Cryin’”. Sure, it’s another hit, and in no way a “Blue Army” favorite, but damn just as Elevator did, that “Joe Fucking Perry” opening lick grabs you by the neck and makes you stand up and submit to a song that is as good to hear live, as just about any Aerosmith song on the set-list. “Cryin’” done live has a way of giving every member of the band the spotlight to do a little piece of what they do best! With Joe and Brad trading off riffs, and Steven not only giving you some of his best lyrics ever written, he gives his signature Primal Scream, and at 67 years old this man ain’t missin’ a thing!

Then almost as if on queue, we heard the unmistakable loud explosion of those jangling guitars that could only be “Jaded”, with Joey again just bangin’ away with a force that is only Joey Kramer! And the light show!!! Again, you can’t write a review without giving credit where credit is due. These guys put on a show inside a show! Mary and I went crazy, screaming until our throats hurt. This may not be another Blue Army favorite, but it’s a damn high favorite of mine and Mary’s, and maybe even one of her top 10! They performed this song so fucking good they rocked the whole South Shore of the lake! With Joe often in the spotlight and Tom strolling the catwalk, the crowd absolutely loving him! Although, when Steven walked down the right side of the stage, towards the backstage pass girls and families, who were all of 10 or 13 years old, to share the mic with them, it was pretty apparent the kids had no clue what this song was, let alone the words to it. Forever the showman, Steven quickly recovered extending the mic to the crowd to finish up what the girls couldn’t do, and alas someone threw an American flag on stage that Steven wore as a cape to finish out the set, bringing the fans to an even louder roar than previously thought possible.

As jaded wound down Steven sauntered over toward Brad and handed the spotlight to him, almost as if it was a baton in a relay. This is what I love about this band most. It is not, never has been, never will be about just one guy, it is all of them that make up this band. It’s the respect they give to one another, both personally and professionally, it’s absolutely amazing, and awe inspiring to me. More on this later… At that point he introduced an extreme Blue Army favorite, as he said; “…The One, The Only,  Last Child, Mr. Brad Whitford”, and then it was all Brad with my #5 on the Top 100!

 

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Not just the lighting crew, but the camera crew, from projectionists to producers, were no less than brilliant, and it may have been during Brad’s opening solo that I first really noticed just how good these guys were. You see the amphitheater is small enough to watch them on stage the whole show, you are that close, but the show these guys were putting on the 3 screens was beyond good, beyond great, beyond awesome! It truly was a 3rd show within 2 others. It was consuming, you couldn’t help but watch. The angles, the catching of light on live projection, the zoom in, the zoom out, the pan. It was such an added “intensity”, the type of thing that makes a casual concert goer a full on fanatic! As Brad played, he also exemplified another key factor of this band of brothers. That is the freedom to showcase their talents, to experiment with licks within the lick. As Brad opened the song, unless you’re a Last Child fan, you may not have recognized where he was going, stretching it, bending, but always staying within what were now extreme boundaries of the original solo.

Simply masterful! And Steven! He gets it exactly! Saying into the mic; “What?” as if to speak for the crowd of their wonder where Brad is going. Truly electrifying! Steven’s voice showing age on this one, but unlike you will hear online, it is aged with amazing grace. Hitting the notes he knows he can to open it, and then “True Blue Aero Raw”; “Yeah kick the dog, kick the cat, tell me honey what you think about that! Take me back to a south Tallahassee…” And Joe!!!! Joe fucking Perry, playing The “FUNK” out of another new guitar, specifically brought on tour just for this song and funky chords he plays on it. Steven never standing in one place, because his comfort zone is the whole stage, it’s the crowd, it’s the whole arena. Never ignoring anyone! Towards the end of the song, Joe and Brad just kept going as if they were only ones in the room, with joey banging along with them…. Then of course Steven and tom back that classic thumping and screaming; “…I was the laaaaast child!” Perfection in sound AND light!

A short minute or so, after they finished up Last Child the band took a very quick second to change instruments and take a short rest of their fingers, Steven took the time to introduce the next song on the set-list, telling the crowd how old the song was already, and how much it means to him, and right away, those of us in the crowd classified as fanatics, knew what we were about to hear. Maybe the most perfect song ever written, at least in my mind. And to hear it live, here or anywhere in the world, is truly worth the price of admission alone!

Then as Steven walked out to the end of the catwalk, Joey started with that strong thumping! 1, 2, 3, 4, Gimme guitar!!!! “Somethings wrong with the world today…” Another Aerosmith song that highlights each and every member in the band. This is fucking Aerosmith! This song right here! And the techs get it, showcasing each member by spotlight and a light show trading off the big screens and side screens, all sharing the spotlight just as the band was doing. It was truly a remarkable thing to experience… This is Aerosmith! There’s a lot goin’ here, so pay some fucking attention, watch both Steven and Joe at the same time, watch them all, this is the band! Each man, a show all by themselves, then together, better than any other! And they fucking deliver it like no other band in the world can. Joe stretching the strings just before the close, bending the sound, Steven singing anger and compassion in the same fucking lyric! And Joey! Joey bangin’ away and singing back up! This song was the masterpiece live, that it is! That it was written to be!!!

 

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Then without missing a note, through the almost eerily silence of the end of “Edge” while Joe is taking it all the way to it’s very end…. You hear a loud; “Ohhh SHIT!” from Steven at center stage. Lights flashing up and down, and all around in a frenzy with each guitar note, bass and drum beat as they tear into the next song with the fury that is “Toys”! This is always fun. Lights on the crowd, everyone in the arena jumping and screaming. This crowd loves this band, and they love what they’re getting. Not many sitting on their hands here!

As I looked around the arena, I noticed something about this place that I noticed earlier in the night, as we first walked in. Security was not there to fuck with anyone. They definitely understood their job, and never took it too serious, as many folks weaved in and out of the front corners of the stage, and even up to out of the catwalk area. Truly an amazing sight! Maybe these people here in Tahoe, are some sort of Season Ticket holders? They seemed to have a mutual respect for all who wanted to do the same, never over staying their welcome, and continuously giving way for others who wanted to experience the closeness of that experience. And that signature Joe and Steven singing into one mic. This is the show! During this song I couldn’t help but watch a younger guy of about 30 who sat next to me with his girlfriend, or maybe his date for the nigh,  as she really seemed more interested in the dozens of other guys she knew there than the show or her date, but he told me that this was his first Aero show sometime earlier in the night, so I just really wanted to see his reaction to this classic Blue Army favorite and of course Steven’s water bottle play! It was so much fun to watch his reaction, as if it was all new, never before seen. Sometimes as an older more seasoned Aero veteran, I like to see the show through the eyes of others… this guy gave me that view! It was iconic! It was sexual and sophomoric! It was nasty and it was funny! And you could see it all in the guy’s expression, laughter, and a very loud “YEAHHHhhhhhh!!!” Through this guy next to me, I saw it again for the 1st time! What a show!

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As the band finished off the song with all pomp the song is, and deserves, before the lights dimmed as one would expect, Steven introduced; “On the drums… On the drums… On the drums… Mr Joey Kramer!” The spotlight came upon Joey alone as the guys went back stage for what was obviously a much needed breather for the energy they were putting out… But Joey, Joey…. He gave the audience, many very young who perhaps had never experienced the drum solos of the 70s, and even the 80s. Joey alone with the help of the lighting crew proceeded to put on a show of his own… then as if the man, 67 years old he is, who obviously needs no rest at all, comes out standing next to Joey, with the lighting crew not missing a fucking beat, shows the audience, many unknowing the drummer that is inside the core of the best Front Man in the history of rock in roll. Perfection in sound once again, almost as if it was one drummer with 4 arms and hands. And the smiles, between them, the laughing, these guys were having a fucking blast! Steven gave Joey a huge sincere hug, then left Joey to his own abilities. Joey went on to amaze the crowd after throwing his sticks to them, by continuing with his bare hands at a tempo that was astonishing, and simply amazing! Three times asking the crowd if they want more, and each time the crowd raising the decibel level in reply!

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When the boys took the stage again, they immediately broke into an old 80s hit and favorite of some, although I can’t say it was ever a favorite of mine, I will say that these guys can even take a bathroom break song, and make you wanna’  hold it! They make every song good! Every song worth hangin’ around for. They definitely hit it with this one. The energy, the crowd, the Joe Perry licks, the Joey Kramer drum beats, the ragtime Steven Tyler lyrics, make this one so much fun, whether it’s at the bottom of your Top 100 or the Top, I would give the advice not to miss this one!

Of course this is Mary’s bathroom break song, so she did just that, only to run into a cast of characters right of an ecstasy party… as she took  a moment to use the rest room, a couple dudes lookin’ like ladies right out of a 70s Glam Rrock show with full on glitter frosted wigs, Faux Fur and leather vests with no shirts, were looking for love in all the wrong places. As one of the guys made eye contact with her, she gave it all back, as Mary would, she told him just how “FANTASTIC” he looked, as he told her he “Loves Her!”, Mary gave the same reply back; “I Love You Too!”, and then a full on kiss! Laughing hysterically as she came back to our seats. That’s Mary! Even during her bathroom break song she’s having a blast…

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As  Rag Doll ended, Steven calmly introduced Joe, stepped away from the mic stand and once again, as this band does so well, handed off the spotlight to another member. Joe took a moment to address the crowd. “Tahoe, how ya’ doin’? Man this is fuckin’ great!” He, of course being the Gentleman he is, thanked the crowd right away for having the band back, which was met with an extreme ovation. This town loves this guitarist!  Then he went on to tell everyone how much he likes Tahoe, and how much the lake reminds him of Sunapee, “This reminds me of the place me and Steven met, about 40 years ago.  The same kinda thing.  You got the lake, you got all the boats.  Everybody’s here havin’ a great time.  And I remember we used to play out on the lawn here and there and all that kind of thing.  And it was much smaller, of course.  Maybe a little different with the casinos and all…”  

Then he talked about Boston and the band’s roots a little bit, telling the Tahoe audience; “It’s great to see you all here, and now we’re going to do a little blues number for you.  From Boston; we do have a heritage of playing the blues in Boston, and it goes like this…” and he jumped right into one of the best version of” Stop Messin’ Round’ I’ve ever heard.

Steven took a very ‘behind the scenes’ position for most of the song, giving full respect to the founder of the band to have his moment as the Star of the show. But the most interesting, and truly most enjoyable part of this song was not just Joe’s time in the spotlight singing a true favorite, as if the song was written for him to sing and play, but the band! The band is awesome in this song once again! Every single member! Steven with his back to the crowd during at least half the song blowing into the harp as the song has so much in it, but never taking the attention away from his brother, yet blowing like only Steven Tyler can. It’s a remarkable song to witness the band play… As it gets really going toward the middle end Steven joins Joe center stage and shares the spotlight for his own instrumental solo. … Please understand for a moment what this does for me personally. This sound, this man, on this instrument was my original hook in 1976. It was this sound that I would follow for the rest of my life, It’s this sound right here that enters my soul like waterfall over the cliff , rushing through crashing on the rocks, and swimming within the deep. This was everything I came to hear, everything I came to see. It’s the message that the title of “Let The Music Do The Talkin’” is saying…

When the “Stop Messin’” winded down, Steven still with harp in his belt line, took the mic stand again, and gave a very brief introduction to a song that seemed to Mary, and I that  only a small fraction of the audience knew. Immediately giving a complex feeling of euphoric sublimity, and at the same time complete understanding of why they can’t do a show full of songs pre 1980. Not that I would ever really want a show like that, but the truth is, it would never be a success. This band has traversed 5 decades over 40 years by each others’ sides. There are original fans that are no longer alive, and new fans that have never heard the song they were about to play because they were born in a different century. With Joe once again by his side on the catwalk representing the once Toxic Twins that they still are, Steven jumps into the mic with a quick “Joe Perry”! and then we hear the opening very familiar licks of perhaps the Bluest of the Blue army, at least for tonight… “ Mama Kin!

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 Without missing a beat, straight from the blues of Stop Messin’ Round, they stick the audience hard with the one song that caught Ole’ Clive Davis’ ear! The song that got him saying “I’m gonna’ make you a star!” The one that got them signed! And it rocked this fuckin little arena like the hit it was always meant to be. And for those that heard it for the 1st time, I think they actually got it. I think they actually could feel the appreciation from the elder crowd around the arena. It was truly a work of art. It was “Blue Fucking Army!” that night 7, 000 people were fully In Touch with Mama Kin! Maybe one fan a bit “Too In Touch”, as when Steven threw his harmonica into the crowd it chipped the tooth of a woman it first came in contact with. Ya gotta wonder WTF she was looking at, don’t ya’ think? Anyway, true to the professionalism that Aerosmith is, the band’s “people” quickly rushed to the scene to see if there was anything at all they could do. She was fine, but they left full contact lists with her for afterwards.

As the lights dimmed just a little at the end of Mama Kin, Steven then took a walk to the end of the catwalk to get his 1st  “Prop” from a plant in the crowd, with kind of a soft floppy hat was thrown to him after he told the ‘plant’ how much he liked the hat, and asked if he could wear it… As he put it on, the lights softened and Buck began the opening keys  to maybe the one song I personally, least ever want to hear, live or on the radio. But with all due respect for what it is, and what it means to those who don’t swim in deep waters, I stayed in my seat to watch the crowd. And the crowd ate this up like the Sweet Apple Pie a la Mode with extra caramel syrup that it is.

Buck started of with a few keys and paused after about 6 or 8 strokes as if to wait for Steven to enter the song lyrically… But as in true S.T. fashion, always having fun, he turns around to Buck and says into the mic; “Ha I fooled you! You got 4 more to go… Come on…” Buck then gives 4 more key strokes to “I Don’t Wanna’ Miss a Thing” and the stage is truly all Steven’s. The band does a fantastic job throughout, quite possibly being perfect in every note. Watching the crowd as I was, I couldn’t help but notice so many from Gen 3 and 4 standing up singing, serenading their partners, men and women alike, women to women, men to men, mother to child, friends to friends. Although this is a song I will likely never get behind, I can understand where some do. But giving my attention back to the stage it was so very evidently clear, as well as they played the song, how virtually bored the group was with it. Knowing full well, it’s a “Must Do”, a “Must Perform”, there are some things, no matter how professional you are, that you just can’t hide… at the end of the song, Joe did give his best effort to put a signature on it, but still….

Just before the next Blue Army favorite, Steven told the audience how “at his age he was just getting used to slowing down, though he immediately followed that by saying he was definitely going to jump into the front row and bring the party to them at some point!” he never did, but with energy this man exudes, I’m not sure it would have come as a surprise to anyone if he did.

Then that fast opening beat on the drums and Joe’s sliding fingers on that guitar as if to say, thank god that’s over. The band jumps into DTL with a speed that is unmistakable Blue Army 1979 all over again! Only this time with the precision it was originally meant to be. You could tell from the start that this wouldn’t be classic live version from the 80s and 90s, but none-the-less exciting and a very live rockin’ tune! Again the people rose out of their seats, only this time it was a bit of a shock, as maybe a 1/5th of the audience were vacating the arena, as if they heard all they came to hear with song’s predecessor. Gen 3 and 4 were virtually gone! Fine! Whatever! More dancing room for the rest!

Steven dancing around as only he… well, he and Chelsea do. But damn that’s it! This is Aerosmith! Complete with swimming wrist rolls and hopping unmelodic stomping and, and kangaroo hopping with the mic stand. And Joe just being Joe F’ing perry” with a swagger that even Slash modeled his whole persona, his whole career after. An awesome shoman in his own right, but sharing the catwalk once again with his brother in arms, these two are “The salt, the kings of the Brine!” It was white hot electric! It was fast and it was pure! And of course Steven again, just being fucking amazing! Maybe not the show stopper of 1994, but definitely a show keeper!

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As they finished up DTL, maybe just a little quicker than a seasoned fan would have expected, those that stayed for what would soon be considered the heart of the show, were  now getting their just desserts. The frenzied energy that DTL is, warrants a small breather at the end for the Bad Boys from Boston. Maybe not long, but just long enough to grab some water and change a few instruments…. At least for everyone except the man you would think most needs that water (truth is, he gets his when the band plays without vocals, but they make it look so seamless)….

If I remember right, it was just after DTL during this little breather that Steven got his 2nd  “prop” from a plant in the crowd, throwing him up a worn in, worn out straw cowboy hat. As he put it on, he gave a little promenade down the left side of the stage (his right), telling everyone he’s “Feeling a little Country Tonight”, and basically shamelessly asking the crowd if they’d like to hear “A Song?” as if to test the waters for “If a Glove is Your Thing”… the crowd was instantly silent, giving him an answer I’m not sure he was ready for, or even wanted to hear, but after an almost awkwardly longer pause than anticipated, he told the crowd “Not Tonight!”

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Steven again worked the crowd, still wearing the cowboy hat, he strolls the stage and talks heartfelt with the audience; “When we wrote this song, and we put it down in the studio, and we listened to playback… I thought: ‘Fuck. We arrived’.  That was it.  For me, that was it. Today, at meet and greet, I heard the song, “Nine Lives”.  Changed everything.  No, but seriously, this song – this was the one.  Joe Perry!…” and then we heard the song that Steven introduced at the Donnington show as “His favorite Aerosmith song to perform live”, and you could tell, this is a song these guys truly love to play! There may have been more energy in this one song than any other all night long.

It was contagious to the lighting crew, the projectionists, the producers, this song was everything an Aerosmith concert is, all rolled up into one song! The song is full of everything they have ever been, they are, and ever will be. Again with each member getting spotlights throughout the song, two guitarist speaking to each other in a language we all enjoy, but only they understand, as if finishing each other’s sentences, a drum beat that is unmistakable in every sense of the word, a driving bass line and a vocalist singing “Genius” lyrics at a pace of perfection! ‘No More, No More’ was a show within a show!

As they broke into “Dude’, Mary and I couldn’t help but notice, that the song as a whole, seemed a little tired. It really was evident, at least for an Aero connoisseur that there was a little less enthusiasm for a song that I’m sure has played out it’s welcome with the band. Although it was really truly apparent that from the fans who were still in the crowd from Gen 2 and 3, that at least they immensely appreciated it. And even with a seemingly lackluster interest in doing the song, they did it well. Well enough to get the whole crowd up dancing and singing along. They truly do have something for everyone! However, as soon as it was over, at least a quarter of the crowd that was still left after “I Wanna Miss This Song” was heard, they also realized they had heard everything they came for, and proceeded out the gates to maybe get a good seat at the Black-Jack tables

As quickly as Dude started it was over, and Joey broke into the most recognizable drum beat in the history of Rock N Roll! Of course, albeit with a new guitar, and a new twist Joe broke into the  unmistakable riff of WTW, but with a twist, a new almost funkier sound, and just as one might think you can’t top “No More, No More”, they pull out the 1st rap Song in the history of music, and Rock the fuck out it! Complete with silhouettes of dancing girls in short skirts on the big screen in back! So very, “like the bing on my cherry”, Aerosmith!

Everyone left was dancing in the aisles, dancing in their seats. Big small, fat, tall! This audience was lickin’ it up! Joe was absolutely taking the song into a different territory, adding a funk to it that it has always had, but twisting it up and scratching it with a different guitar that gave it an even more “raw” sound than I’ve ever heard before, in great contrast with Brad’s Gibson sound, It was truly unique. It was so very cool! Steven often tossing the mic stand to the crowd, they did not disappoint. With this song, played the way they played it, it definitely puts a perspective of how and why they opened the show to Lil‘ Jon and The East Side Boyz… at the end Joe gave a quick 7 chord wisp of Zeppelins’ Whole Lotta Love’ as a teaser just to let the crowd know they’re not done, but it’s time to dim the lights before the encore…

Before I move on from this song, I’d like to say that I read a few reviews of this song at this arena. They weren’t kind to Joe, saying that; “it was obvious  the man was slowing down in his older age, missing a chord or two, blending riffs together that should have been separate, having a hard time keeping the true tempo of the song”… Let me say this; Yeah, these guys are older and in many ways, you can see it. In some ways you can hear it, but what some don’t hear is that Joe, always being Joe, always wants to grow his music. He always has, and always will try new and different things, just as every member of the band has the freedom to do. It’s part of what makes their shows new and unique and different each and every time. How boring would it be, if we saw the same thing every time? With that said, I appreciate the man’s opinion, but in this case I think he missed the entire point.

Maybe 15 minutes or so after the lights dimmed the back screen started showing that gorgeous Tahoe sunset from earlier in the night. Again, those of us who have done this before were ready for true beauty. Whether the song is high on your Top 10 or somewhere around 67 on my Top 100, it’s a song that you have to see performed live to truly appreciate the meaning the song has to so many. As the steam rose from catwalk, the spot light lit, the top of the Grand Piano comes into view rising from below like a phoenix, and it’s just Steven playing who knows what? It was cool, it was fun, just a little diddie. As quick as it started it was over, and he says into the mic, again with complete sincerity, and playful affection; “That’s for you Joey”… He then breaks into a beautiful snippet of “Home Tonight”.

This is not trivial in any sense of the word, putting as much feeling into this short excerpt of the song as any other song he has ever sang. It’s truly beautiful, and then as he does so well, he elegantly transitions into the opening keys of “Dream On”… The crowd erupts! So loud they almost drown out the piano. Then almost with respect to the artist on stage, they calm and just let him play and sing… the spotlight comes up on stage left (our right) soft though, not fully lit. Showing a brother, a twin, an opposite, the yin to singer’s yang, playing one of the most recognizable guitar melodies in the history of music… still though, in full spotlight, the man at the piano. Anything less would be criminal, as he sings a song with every ounce of heart a human being can have. He is alone, and yet his brothers are by his side. He is alone, and yet he is singing to 7,000 people. It maybe one of the most heart grabbing “live” performances I’ve ever witnessed, as Joe’s light grows slowly just a touch brighter, he walks slowly towards the catwalk, never missing a note. He joins his brother center of the catwalk and slowly walks up the stairs and takes ”His Place” atop the white grand piano, taking his spotlight, all the while the singer singing in tune with each chord he plays, it’s simply remarkable…

As Joe plays into an awesome solo, you can’t help but notice Steven stand and push away the bench, never stopping his playing, never stopping his vocals…. Joe then, as I’ve said before; this band does this better than anyone, hands the baton back to the Lead Singer, the writer of this iconic song, and lowers himself down of the stage that is the top of the piano, giving way for the artist to take his rightful place on top of that very stage that he built! It’s more than amazing, it’s completely awe inspiring, and dare I say; “a very spiritual experience’… They drive this song home, as if it’s the only song they came to play, the only song the audience came to see. And they delivered it wrapped in white gold!

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As the lights slowly come back on Steven Introduces the last member of the band to be introduced for the night; “Mr. Tom Hamilton!” and Tom starts us off with a very jazzy, funky bass line that isn’t much at all like what we’re all expecting to hear, and frankly has a lot fooled enough to have no clue what-so-ever what the song is that they are about to hear, then after about 60 seconds he tom brings it all back to a bass line that is 2nd to none other in the business, and some would say, the 2nd most known in the band’s whole catalogue of songs. Off to the right you can’t help but notice Joe’s almost silhouette inside a blue spotlight back drop, hose in his mouth giving that ever popular, timeless talk-box sound of “Sweet Emotion”, and then we hear Steven and Joe sing together “Sweeeeet Eeeemoootionnnn”, the camera flashes to Steven wearing neon facial “War Paint”, and yet giving the locals in this crowd a feeling reminiscent of “Burning Man”. Steven dragging out the lyrics, Joe making the guitar sing. And as fan, you start to realize this is the end of a very special and fantastic night, but in no way melancholy that it’s coming to an end, but more of a celebration of weekend well spent! And you just let the band play!

They play this song into the trees surrounding the arena, the song takes on it’s own personality, as if it was a child raised by 5 guys, it screams out for attention and it gets it! Each parent giving it a touch of personal character, it’s awesome from start to finish… But before it’s done Joe gives this child a very strong message… that message is; “turn it up!” he, now alone on the stage with his child, has a talk, a very personal talk with this song, he takes it close to the amplifiers that were there when Joe  was a young boy, he shows it the brothers’ history, he plays with it, he then takes this child, this song of his and shows it how to be heard in the world, and turns up each and every amp, he hugs his child closely, and turns it loose, what you hear from that point, is pure strength! Growth! Tradition, Presence and Full on Character! The amps and Joe burning in smoke all around, the distortion from the amps is the child screaming to be let out!… This is Sweet Emotion! This is what they leave you with. This is the end of a show that had it all…

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As the boys come out to the center catwalk Steven tells the audience how much he enjoys Tahoe and he plans on spending the next 4 days there, he then introduces everyone, and gives full-on sincere respect, support and thanks, knowing full well it’s all 5, actually all 6 that makes this band what it is, and every single person in the audience gets it. From Buck, to “the other guitarist” Brad, to Tom, To Joey, to Joe Fucking Perry… and as Joe takes the mic; he tells the crowd to “Watch their wallets as Steven will be on the streets of Tahoe for a few days”, then with a great laugh, he introduces; “The One, the Only, The Demon of Screamin’ Steven Tyler”… They embrace with laughter and smiles all around. This is real folks. And as Bo Diddley’s “I’m a man” starts playing they exit the stage, but not before Steven finds some last camera time to take off his shirt and show the world what a 67 year old man would be lucky enough to look  like.

Thank you to my wife Mary for the awesome time we had, and thank you to Kurt E. Johnson for making truly beautiful photography available for the world to see. and thank you to Joe, and Steven, Brad, Joey and Tom, and those who made this show one of the best I’ve ever seen

BrotherSpike80, Mike Faires,

I find my own fun
Sometimes for free…

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Final Thoughts:
We had just witnessed the best there is. There best there ever was, the best there ever will be… Aerosmith is truly one of the last of marquee names in lights. As the guy next to me said, many people’s “Bucket List Band”.. They proved it in Tahoe. They proved why they are still “THE Show to See”! Friday night, July 3rd, 2015 they showed why they have earned the right to be not only America’s Greatest Rock n Roll Band, but also The World’s!

Steven… This man was born to do what he does. It’s why he’s on this earth. He is two people in one at the same time. It’s not a matter of different personalities. It’s not a matter of multiple personalities. It’s a matter of complexity. He has been a man throughout out his life who is deeply passionate about all that he does, and extremely compassionate at the same time. But people with that type of passion for life, and things in general, often let passion get in the way of compassion, we tend to come off as rough around the edges as some will often say. We say things others don’t, or even won’t… And with that comes a perception of some who do not know… Some from distances as though he/we may be a bit to sharp tongued, throwing daggers with words… So with that, we make more effort to show our compassionate side, all the while, passion being in the lead.

My point to this is; Steven is all in one. He is NOT sometimes a caring soul, he is NOT sometimes an asshole, he is NOT sometimes a childlike nature boy, he is NOT sometimes larger than life, he is NOT sometimes the kind old man with a small dog you run into in the streets of South Shore, he is NOT sometimes the very private, and resistant man when swarmed by people with cameras, he is NOT sometimes still a Rock n Roll Sexy Legend for women from 18 – 65, he is NOT sometimes just a dad and grandpa, or an absolutely geeky slapstick jokester with one liners. He is NOT sometimes the most quick witted, and vocally gifted man you could ever meet… He is all of that, all of the time. Every minute! It is all in him. You don’t catch him on a “good day” or a “bad day’, they are all just days. He gives you who he is, which very well may be who he wants to be at that given moment. And when THAT MAN, when that man takes the stage you get every bit of the biggest Rock Star the world has ever known. Sure a lot of it is self imposed, but who better to do it?

 

Published by

BrotherSpike80

I am a man of simple means. My family is what's important to me. My family and my 3 girls mean more to than the sun! If you ask me what I think, I will tell you straight! So don't ask if you don't wanna know. I like people who are real and don't like those who aren't. You'll know where you fit with me pretty quick. I give most everyone the benefit of the doubt, at least until they prove me wrong. I've lived most my life like there was no tomorrow, at least until my daughters were born, and then even a bit after. By the way; That is NOT good advice... just a statement. I don't believe in "Halfway" Why put on the skis if you're not gonna at least try the face? But I also believe that there is more than Black and White. I believe in where I came from, I don't believe what I went through was ALL worth it! I believe in doing the right thing, more than doing what's right! I believe in "true" friendship, I also know that 99% of them aren't true. I will live a happy life and die a complete man if my kids learn from my mistakes.