Bayfest, Sarnia - July 19, 2007

JAMES REANEY - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 5:20 AM ET

SARNIA - Fresh from rocking Russia, Aerosmith touched down to shake up Bayfest and most of the known world last night.

"We're going to turn it up so loud, you're going to hear our ass in Cincinnati tonight," frontman Steven Tyler promised after just two numbers 'Smithed to perfection in sound and vision.

By then Tyler had lost his sunglasses in the crowd, tossed aside his silly big hat and mixed it up with the floor during the opener Love on an Elevator in case the song's subtleties were lost on us.

Tyler had also shared the love with guitar ace Joe Perry -- who kept his faux aviator's hat firmly in place -- and shy bassist Tom Hamilton on the Aerosmith landing strip, a walkway that reached far out into the sold-out crowd of 20,000 fans.

"Tom Hamilton in the house, Tom Hamilton," Tyler shouted after the bassist -- a quiet dignified sort -- had cheerfully endured Tyler's arms and elongated fingers twitching around as the frontman stood behind him.

That was just the first 10 minutes or so of a powerhouse blast of a concert by stars who arrived in town with a Sarnia police escort from the airport.

The U.S. rock superstars headlined at Day 2 of Rogers Bayfest here at Centennial Park last night. The four-day fest continues tonight with Toby Keith headlining.

Aerosmith was back in North America after playing concerts in St. Petersburg and Russia. Tyler had apparently been attempting some Russian in his stage talk there.

Last night, it was back to good old Aerosmith profanity and crowd-goading, fluttering into the cool night from those enormous lips that seem to have a Dorian Gray deal of their own even as the rest of Tyler's face looks pleasantly ravaged by more than 30 years of rock fun and frolic. It also must be said the man looks darn good in a sleeveless top, flimsy enough and purple enough for Cher.

Perry was outstanding, too -- getting out his blues licks for a mid-set Baby, Please Don't Go. Tyler had out the harmonica for that one, a reminder that after all these years, Aerosmith can still wail the blues.

That followed a fine cover of the Beatles' Come Together, which had Hamilton and guitarist Brad Whitford propelling the tune after muscle-friendly drummer Joey Kramer swooshed into it with mallets.

By mid-set, Aerosmith had visited hits from the 1970s and 1980s.

"Talk to me, talk to me," Tyler said before the band launched into Seasons of Wither, another visit to its roots, sounding like Aerosmith's take on Led Zeppelin. Huge storms of guitar had the crowd cheering as it ended.

All in all, it made the Aerosmith cancellation at the John Labatt Centre a while back a cause for regret. It was an undisclosed illness in the band that cancelled that gig.

Nobody was ailing last night, that's for sure.

Maybe Londoners heard a little from Bayfest, but an Aerosmith concert in London would be a cause for some sweet emotion indeed.

Meanwhile, here's one measure of how big Bayfest has become in 2007. There were 15,000 for Nickelback on Wednesday, when it poured. Last night's tickets were all sold days before the concert.

To put that in perspective, official attendance at Bluesfest London last weekend was 14,476 fans over the three days.

British rockers Def Leppard close out Bayfest tomorrow night.


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