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Monday Mid-Day Music Byte (J. Geils Band/Aerosmith Fenway Review)

Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band belted out a tune last night.

Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler...
Photo by Christopher Evans

The Boston Herald review of Saturday night’s J. Geils Band/Aerosmith concert at Boston’s fenway park:

It happened. Lord, oh, lord, it actually happened.

After 40 years of rock, millions of dollars burnt on booze, pills, powders and hospital bills, and months of fresh infighting, Aerosmith made it to the stage at Fenway last night. And they (mostly) did the city proud.

Along with J. Geils Band and opener locals Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents (a cute little garage soul outfit), Aerosmith rocked the sold-out park.

Yes, there were moments that made the (not always) Bad Boys look like tools. Lame late singles “Falling in Love,” “Pink” and (seriously? ugh!) “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” wasted time needed for more “Toys in the Attic.” Joey Kramer’s drum solo surrounded by clouds of fog was a Spinal Tap moment. And Joe Perry’s guitar duel with a digitized version of himself, the exact same one from the ’09 Comcast Center show, was another sad, stupid ad for the band’s “Guitar Hero” game.

But there were many brilliant moments.

The set list was standard, as we basically got what every other crowd on the tour got – where was the expected, coulda-been-awesome Geils/Aerosmith collaboration? But most of the performance was a glitzy blitz of glammed-up, hammed-up stadium rock.

The show opened with a Denis Leary-narrated JumboTron video history of Aer-O-(expletive)-Smith and the band’s “Train Kept A-Rollin’ ” thunder clap. Then it lapsed into newer hits, with Tyler often struggling vocally. Some ruled – “What It Takes” began with Tyler a cappella before becoming a tasty, gooey sandwich of pop cheese and Rolling Stones leftovers. Some were awful – did I mention blob-of-vomit “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing?”

After the uneven pop came lots of top-notch rock. “Come Together” featuring a freaky Perry solo. An epic “Sweet Emotion.” “Baby, Please Don’t Go” with Tyler exclaiming, “Excuse me while I whip this out,” and grabbing his harmonica.

And the encore was even better. Tyler, whose voice was at its best by night’s end, in a Sox jersey at a white grand piano atop the Green Monster belting out “Dream On.” An extended “Walk This Way” (it takes a while to get from the Monster to center field) fired Brad Whitford and Perry’s tough, tight guitars.

Steven Tyler may have a “Big Ten Inch Record,” but he doesn’t have a guy named Magic Dick in his band.

The harmonica wizard, fab frontman Peter Wolf and the rest of the J. Geils Band rarely reunite, so when they do, they make damn sure it’s a blow-your-face-out house party. The band plus New York’s Uptown Horns delivered a set of rocks-off r & b steered by the wily Wolf – through the hour-plus set he was in and out of the crowd, tossing roses to the ladies or rhyming and rambling through Wolfa Goofa rants.

A good chunk of the crowd was specifically there for classic Geils – Dick honkin’ away on “First I Look at the Purse,” guitarist J. Geils ripping into “Detroit Breakdown,” and highlight “Must of Got Lost.” But the biggest cheers were for the ’80s hits – “Love Stinks,” “Freeze Frame” and “Centerfold.” Geils did the Top 40 tunes justice, but its heart is still in gritty, bar band stuff.

There was rampant speculation that the Fenway forum would induce the bands to perform together for a bit. Such was not the case however, because prior to the concert, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and J. Geils Band’s Peter Wolf got into a loud and public argument. It appears that the egomaniac Tyler did not want Wolf to use the crowd runway during his band’s performance. Wolf would have none of it and used it frequently. Aerosmith then would not let the Geils Band perform with them. Oh well, what’s Boston without a fight anyway!

There is not a lot of great footage of the J. Geils Band out there just yet, but in the meantime please enjoy these somewhat lacking clips of “Musta Got Lost” and “Give It To Me”. After that, the next clips of Aerosmith have better quality. The “Dream On” clip is notable because Steven Tyler performs from atop the famed left field wall known in Boston as the “Green Monstah”.

J. Geils Band – “Musta Got Lost”

J. Geils Band – “Give It To Me”

Denis Leary and “Train kept A Rollin”

Aerosmith – “Dream On”