The guitar god pulled out some rare gems at his return to the Big Apple
Last night at the storied Webster Hall, Aerosmith axeman Joe Perry made his triumphant return to New York City. With Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone and the rest of the Joe Perry Project alongside him, kicked things off with “I’ve Got the Rock ‘N’ Rolls Again,” the title track from The Joe Perry Project’s sophomore release in 1981. From there, the legendary guitarist proceeded to rip through a wildly diverse set of solo songs, Aerosmith classics, and blues covers.
“It’s green to be back here in New York City with so many old friends, and some new ones,” Perry stated.
Robin Taylor Zander kicked off the evening’s festivities. The son of Cheap Trick legend Robin Zander, Robin Taylor has blossomed into a gifted singer-songwriter. He turned in a solid set of folksy rock that garnered a favorable reaction from the crowd. He debuted some selections from his upcoming album as well. Unsurprisingly, you can definitely here a little bit of Cheap Trick woven into his music.
Next, Micky James exploded onto the stage for a raucous performance. Glammed out to the max, the Philly rocker oozed all of the excess from another era. Much like his contemporary Luke Spiller of The Struts, James’ stage presence and style is reminiscent of the likes of David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, and Steven Tyler.
Jumping around on stage with furious energy, Micky tore through an eight-song set that included his hit singles “Tie Me Up,” “Kings,” “Give It To Me Straight,” and his latest track, “New York Minute,” which was appropriately debuted in the heart of its namesake. He wrapped things up with is biggest song – “Rest of the Best.” Micky’s vintage nature is a huge breath of fresh air in the middle of today’s rock music landscape.
Over the last five decades, Perry has become a larger-than-life rock ‘n’ roll entity. Getting to see him play in a smaller club instead of an arena or stadium makes him seem refreshingly human. Rock music is supposed to be dirty, messy, and fun. Perry’s performance last night was perfectly imperfect – which is part of what made it so great.
“We’re gonna do one that you might recognize, depending on how old you are,” Perry said to the crowd before performing an Aerosmith classic. “I remember it.” He turned around to face his drummer, launched into the opening riff of “Lick and a Promise” – and fucked it up.
“I don’t remember it,” he said with a laugh. The crowd laughed along with him, and cheered in support. With a second attempt, Perry nailed it, and fans were delighted with a damn good cut of a rare Aerosmith gem.
It was great to see Perry laugh it off, because that’s rock ‘n’ roll. Nobody fucking cares. Later in the set, a fan shouted out a song request. Perry didn’t say what it was. He just smiled, and said, “If I could remember it, I’d play it.” With 50 years worth of tunes floating around in your head, stuff like this is bound to happen. Being able to put aside all the rockstar bullshit and just roll with it is a beautiful thing.
“God, I love that song,” he added. “I wish my other band would play it more.” With as many massive hits as Aerosmith has, one can only imagine how hard it must be to put together a setlist at this point in their career. Maybe this one will sneak in next time they hit the road.
About half way though, with a gorgeous red Gibson ES Custom with gold hardware, Joe took over vocal duties. He performed a cover of Billy Lee Riley’s “Flying Saucer Rock ‘n’ Roll.” When it finished, Perry did something that I certainly have never seen before – he played it again.
“This [song] is a guilty pleasure of mine,” he stated. “Would you mind if I play it again?” After posing the question (even though he wasn’t really asking), he replied, “I heard a few ‘No’s’…yes? Ok, here we go.” The band proceeded to rip through the bluesy quick-hitter once more. Why, you make ask? Well, why the hell not?
Later on, “Quake” and “Fortunate One,” made their way onto the setlist, the latter of which saw Perry shredding it up with some slide guitar. Both tracks got their debut during Perry’s solo run last year. They are from his forthcoming LP Sweetzerland Manifesto MKII. Additionally, a performance of The Jeff Beck Group’s “Beck’s Bolero” served as a fine tribute to the late guitarist.
Sadly, missing once again were “Discount Dogs” and the blues-tinged rocker “Shakin’ My Cage” from Perry’s 2005 self-titled solo effort. But, hey, there’s always next time. Hopefully Perry will fill up some more of his free time with additional Joey Perry Project shows this summer.
Other Aerosmith highlights included “Somebody,” “S.O.S. (Too Bad,” their versions of “Chip Away the Stone” and “The Train Kept A’ Rollin’,” and “Walk This Way” which served as the night’s grand finale. The song selection was an extra-special treat for the crowd. Because of Aerosmith’s seemingly endless catalog of hits, its rare nowadays that the tracks Perry performed last night would make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band’s set (aside from the staple “Walk This Way”). It was a great way for the fans to hear these tunes in an intimate setting.
At 71, Joe Perry is still performing with the same swagger and grit he did some five decades ago. With every performance, he continues to solidify the fact that he’s one of the very best to ever do it. It’s very cool that he still has the passion to play his solo stuff in an intimate setting at this point in the game. Fans are surely hoping that he continues to sprinkle in more solo outings around his Aerosmith commitments in the near future.
Speaking of, the legendary Boston rockers are reportedly getting back in the saddle later this year for a massive tour. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers recently wrapped up their landmark Deuces Are Wild Residency in Las Vegas, and played a special 50th anniversary show at Fenway Park. Now, it looks like fans around the globe may finally be getting to witness the celebrations for themselves.
“We are gearing up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band and will definitely have some incredible forgotten treasures for our fans that we found deep-diving into the vaults and there’s a lot more to come,” Aerosmith previously said in a statement.
Joe’s new solo album – Sweetzerland Manifesto MKII – arrives on May 26. The record is a reinventing of his previous effort Sweetzerland Manifesto which came out in 2018. The new LP features different takes on songs from the original record, with new guest performances by Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), Gary Cherone (Extreme), David Johanson (New York Dolls), Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes) and Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots).
“We had so many songs and with everything going on with the Vampires, Aerosmith, COVID, not touring and touring, this music kept riding along for me,” Perry says. “It was like the engine of a train that wasn’t going to stop. I’d wanted to put these songs out, and the idea of adding them to a vinyl release or Deluxe Version turned into doing MKII. I tend to think in terms of albums. The first one had a vibe, and MKII is a little more rocked out. I almost prefer it. It’s one of those records I can play from front to back live.”
In addition to streaming, the album will be available in limited edition gold swirl vinyl. Fans can also order the vinyl packed with an authentic Joe Perry guitar strap, and the ultimate vinyl test pressing with a framed plaque. Fans pre-order now HERE.