While Steven Tyler has always been the face of Aerosmith, Joe Perry has spent the better part of three decades acting as the band’s soul — not to mention its conscience. Whenever the band ventures too far from the blues-rock path it traveled down in the early ’70s, the guitarist finds a way to right the ship with a flick of the wrist and a just-greasy-enough riff.
At this perf, said to be the only one Perry will stage in promotion of his self-titled solo disc — his first since rejoining Aerosmith after a brief split in the early 1980s — Perry had no pop headwind to battle, and clearly reveled in getting down and dirty on his own terms. (Ticket price was $1.04.)
That manifested itself early on in a crunching rendition of “Shakin’ My Cage,” an archetypal strut through bad-guy terrain that allowed Perry to showcase both his ragged-but-right voice and his flair for short, sharp solos. He’s been subjected to the comparison for ages, but it’s impossible to ignore the parallel to Keith Richards — in both style and the no-nonsense attitude that accompanied a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man.”
The band that Perry assembled for this occasion only amplified that — bassist Charley Drayton has played with Richards on numerous occasions, while guitarist Audley Freed carries on a similar tradition in the Black Crowes. The quartet meshed with seemingly little effort — and virtually no lapses into cruise control (save on an ill-advised take on the Doors’ “Crystal Ship”).
Freed and Perry proved particularly simpatico, whether wrestling sweatily on the slide-laced “Mercy” or gliding into slow-dance mode (on the early-’60s influenced “Twilight”). And while Perry seemed more comfortable when stepping away from the microphone to deliver a solo — just about every song was punctuated by one — he carried himself with an affable off-handedness that fit the tenor of the evening, driving home the point that there’s nothing wrong with striving to have a good time all the time.