At the end of May, Aerosmith played at the Dubai Exile Rugby Club. In the weeks preceding the event, at least one Aerosmith song played at any given point in time on one of the local radio stations.
The band was interviewed on the day of the concert, the interviewer so over-excited he referred to them as ‘Air Supply’ throughout. One of his inspired questions was:
“So, yeah, uh, how, ah,” – (finally locating his notes) – “what is the secret to the band’s longevity?”
And the response: “Maaaan, we just love ta rawck. Ya dig? An’ when ya love ta rawck, man, ya can go on forever. No draggin’.”
Rock ‘n’ roll: the secret to eternal life.
(I’ve always wondered how come rockers never discovered the ampersand? – I suppose it must be all the cocaine.)
Now, I’m not what you might call an enthusiastic concert goer; never have been. During a four week Gaeltacht boot camp at school, the teachers brought us to see U2 play Slane Castle. By rights, it should have been one of the defining moments of my young life: getting drunk for the first time and losing my virginity to ‘Pride In The Name Of Love’. Instead, I spent three hours stalking Niall O’Sullivan around the muddy field.
Nowadays, although I always cite the event as one of my all-time great concert experiences, truth is I can’t remember any of the songs and Niall O’Sullivan snogged Clodagh Wartey behind a bush.
Going to concerts always feels great AFTER the event – kind of like the way a steaming hot power shower feels after a camping trip. But these days, faced with all the pneumatic flesh on display, I feel like a fossilised relic. It’s also difficult to appreciate the music when I’m concentrating on not stuffing my fingers in my ears.
Husband is a big Aerosmith fan. He owns two – perhaps three – of their albums. The only other artist featuring multiple times in Husband’s CD collection is Coldplay, but this is a recent thing motivated by appreciation for their artistry rather than that their music speaks to his angst-ridden, mixed up little soul and can blow a 30AA bra off at high volume. He has owned one Aerosmith CD since college (it features a faded sticker in the corner with his surname written on it hee hee hee).
Now, I won’t switch radio stations if an Aerosmith song comes on – in fact, on occasion I have been known to turn up the volume at the opening bars of ‘Walk This Way’. The ringtone on my phone for male friends is ‘Dude Looks Like A Lady’. I am vaguely ashamed that I like the power ballad ‘Dream On’ as much as I do. And yes, I find Steve Tyler unsettlingly sexy – doesn’t everyone?
Despite all this, I would be internally conflicted about calling myself a fan.
But Husband was keen on attending, so a week before the event, when it was still far enough in the future to seem like a great idea and totally overlooking all that I have written above, I agreed to accompany him. After all, if I’m going to attend any concert, Aerosmith is one of the all-time great rock bands. Every member has been in rehab and Steve Tyler once collapsed on stage. Let’s face it: Bono has never so much as pulled a hamstring on stage, never mind collapsed (although once, his mullet was slightly dishevelled on telly).
I am so ungroovy I volunteered to drive to the venue. We didn’t want to be relying on the local taxi service if Steve and the guys wanted us to come back afterwards and help them superglue their hotel furniture to the ceiling – it’s not a good idea to keep rock stars waiting. They might throw you out the window into the pool after the piano – or before the piano, if you really piss them off.
Because the concert was outside – outside being particularly hot and damp right now – I dressed lightly, foregoing leathers and thigh-high boots with honed stilettos. Halfway to the venue, I kicked off my sand-covered flip-flops and spent the rest of the night in bare feet.
I half-heartedly tried to persuade Husband to let me clamber up onto his shoulders, but my heart wasn’t in it, and I suspect Husband’s even less so. A couple in front of us demonstrated the correct execution of the manoeuvre: willowy girlfriend floating around her boyfriend’s shoulders; then, in one graceful movement, he swung her 180° and, her ankles wound around his neck, they gnawed the face off each other. I practically pursed my mouth to oblivion before I caught myself at it, but I mean really: the concert HADN’T EVEN STARTED YET.
Then the band took the stage and belted off with ‘Pink’ and while Fitz and Husband stuck their faces in plastic pints of beer, Belle and I tried to work up lustful feelings for Steve who was writhing minutely around a stage half a kilometre away.
“I mean, where else in the world would you be this close?” shouted Belle.
I don’t know what she was so excited about. We were so far away I couldn’t even make out Steve Tyler’s monstrous gob, never mind get showered with rock god sweat.
Despite this, I was starting to enjoy myself. Now don’t get too carried away: this is not a tale about how rock ‘n’ roll can change your life; or how unexpected joy comes from opening your mind; or how Steve seduces me into a life of champagne Jacuzzis before I realise the glitz and glamour is an empty dream not to mention somewhat sordid so I return to Husband who won’t take me back and I’m broken hearted because now I realise he is my one true love and I can’t imagine what I ever saw in Steve (his hair being really quite dry with lots of split ends) but thankfully Husband forgives me and we have a tearful reunion with lots of unfocussed slo-mo snogging and live happily ever after, never again referring to that unfortunate interlude when I abandoned him because after all I’m a much better person now and we both learned valuable lessons not least the value of a good, deep-conditioning shampoo.
Where was I? Oh yes. I was starting to enjoy myself when a roadie brought a chair out on stage and Steve Tyler SAT DOWN. Admittedly it was a slow song, and the man is 59 years of age, and it was about 45° in the shade, but I’m just making excuses here. I paid good money to see Steve Tyler writhing around on his belly, shagging groupies between songs, doing mid-air splits and snorting coke off Joe Perry’s guitar – not sitting on a seat.
It wouldn’t even have been so bad if he’d sat on the edge of the stage and let adoring fans touch his groin – that I could forgive. But Steve Tyler: Rock Legend, former fully-fledged member of the Toxic Twins, the man who used to bring a bottle of JD on stage – THAT Steve Tyler sitting on a fold-out wooden slat chair?
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, Steve started CHAIR DANCING. Yes. Writhing around and tossing his dry, split-ended hair. It was absolutely tragic. It’s not even that chair dancing could be disdainfully dismissed as ‘so seventies’ or ‘so eighties’ – it is simply a crime against humanity.
Well, that was the beginning of the end for me. What am I talking about? It was all over, right there. Even afterwards, when Steve Tyler jived with a belly dancer, and put a camera on his microphone so that we could finally see his famous gob, I just could not find it in my heart to forgive him. Rock & Roll will never be the same for me again.
Just reliving that experience has made me too depressed to write any more