Thrash Hits

June 18th, 2010

Download Festival 2010: Aerosmith @ Main Stage – Sunday, 13 June 2010

When the Download Festival 2010 headliners were announced, Aerosmith was met by many in the metal fraternity with an apathetic shrug. They didn’t have the bombastic legends kudos of AC/DC, nor was their heyday in living memory of many of the festival attendees, as is with RATM. Those of us with any shred of appreciation for how mighty Aerosmith’s contribution to rock’n’roll is however, knew differently.

Unfortunately, if the band were hoping to turn some of those ill-educated doubters around with their performance tonight, then the elements were well and truly against them. An evening-long downpour had pummelled the entire site for over five hours with literally inches of rain, with only the hardiest and most hardcore sticking it out against the weather.

But when a band opens up with ‘Love in an Elevator’, a song so popular even a child reared on a diet of nothing but Kerrang! magazine would know it, then you know the final set of Download Festival is gonna be bang on the buck. Steven Tyler might still dress (and dancers) like a drunken prostitute, Joe Perry’s face might still look like a block of wood that a child has added the features to with a wax crayon, but they’re still one of the all-time classic pairings of rock’n’roll. Tonight they showed us why, from the joy at hearing ‘Eat the Rich’ so early, right on through to the foot-stomping genius of ‘Sweet Emotion’.

‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ is so incredibly cheesy you could melt it on toast – they even have the oh-God-they-haven’t-have-they-? gall to screen clips from ‘Armageddon’ (as if anyone in the crowd has forgotten where the song came from) on the big screens while they play. We’d have probably found it a lot more comical if we hadn’t had our hands in the air, tunelessly singing along to the chagrin of all around us at the time, mind you.

Even as a fan, I couldn’t claim tonight was perfection – no ‘Janie’s Got A Gun’, no ‘Dude Looks Like A Lady’, no ‘Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees)’, and no ‘Crazy’. And yeah, maybe if they’d cut down on the overblown blues-jams and cover songs, they could’ve fitted one in…but then I don’t want an Aerosmith that’s clinical, knocking out a greatest hits set, smiling and saying their please’s and thank you’s. We might be thirty years from the Toxic Twins’ nightmarish heyday, but Tyler and Perry’s rockstar-status…nay, their Rock God-status, was cast in the crucible of their addictions and self-destruction.

The encore of ‘Dream On’‘Walk This Way’ and ‘Toys’ is more than enough of a last hurrah to satisfy both the casuals and the hardcore, and Download Festival 2010 ends on a magnificent high-note. Like AC/DC, this will probably be one of the final times Aerosmith make it over the UK and still be able to command an audience as big as tonight, and boy did they make the most of it. It’s just too lucrative for the band to stick to playing the States to guarantee we’ll get them again before they finally call it a day (Steven Tyler’s plastic surgeon is good, but he ain’t that good). All of this just adds up to making tonight’s festival-closing performance just that mite more special than usual. Superb. (words: Hugh Platt)

Aerosmith @ Download Festival 2010 setlist
Love in an Elevator
Back in the Saddle
Mama Kin
Eat The Rich
Livin’ on the Edge
What It Takes
Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Tiny Bradshaw cover)
Lord Of The Thighs
Stop Messin’ Around (Fleetwood Mac cover)
I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing
Sweet Emotion
Baby, Please Don’t Go (Big Joe Williams cover)
Draw the Line

Dream On
Walk This Way
Toys in the Attic