x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Don't want to miss a thing

The Formula One bandwagon is passing, but there's still one last show to send the thing off in style: Aerosmith.

The Formula One bandwagon is passing, but there's still one last show to send the thing off in style. And it would be hard to think of a more fitting choice than Aerosmith, the platonic ideal of rock bands, a group so iconic one suspects they have intellectual property in the very concepts of cheek-bones and leopard-print. Steven Tyler was bingeing himself skinny back when the Kings of Leon were the twinkle in a twinkle's eye. His eternal partner in crime, Joe Perry, has strutted about like a thoroughbred in leather trousers for more than 40 years now and gives no sign of going out to pasture just yet.

From their invention of the rock-rap crossover to their establishment of rehab as a crucial staging post in the hall of fame, Aerosmith are one for the ages. More to the point, they're your only choice for racing events. Perry, appropriately enough, given his looks, breeds race-horses. The band's rhythm guitarist, Brad Whitford, races cars himself: last month he took part in the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup. And Tyler got himself into trouble a few years ago when he was engaged to sing the Star-Spangled Banner at the Indy 500. He replaced the line "home of the brave" with "home of the Indianapolis 500," which, although it doesn't scan and isn't very patriotic, does strike the authentic fanboy note.

Perry recently dashed off a solo album, Have Guitar, Will Travel, and has been grumbling about a certain unnamed member of Aerosmith (cough cough Tyler) who has been "taking [the fans] for granted". Tyler, for the record, caused a chunk of the band's world tour to be cancelled when he fell off a stage and broke his shoulder, so the question of who had unreasonable expectations of whom is a hard one to call.


The end of this week sees Dubai's three-day Sound City festival, a sort of best of the north-west roadshow, which includes a couple of bands whose final chapters I confess I thought had already been written a long time ago. It is, of course, nice to note that the Human League, the Happy Mondays and Echo and Bunnymen are all still in business, and Super Furry Animals remain impossible to dislike.

Yet the continued existence of Ocean Colour Scene only goes to prove that, like the polyps clustered around sulphurous marine vents which their name calls to mind, life goes on at depths of obscurity impossible to fathom. Then again perhaps they're happier this way. Given the choice between the press they used to get and exile to the moon, I know which I'd pick. And then there are those baggy also-rans The Farm. Their last hit (barring football-themed remixes of All Together Now) was 19 years ago, and in a fortnight which saw the death of Flowered Up's Liam Maher, it comes as a pleasant surprise to learn that they're still loping about the place. Personally, I'm overwhelmed by nostalgia at the mere fact that a jobbing arts journalist might have cause to type the pre-1992 rock-writer cliché "baggy also-rans" this far into the 21st century. The real madeleine moment will come, however, if someone thinks to utter the immortal phrase: "There's always been a dance element to our music." It'll happen at the Irish Village if it happens anywhere.


Finally, the First Group Theatre Company continues in its mission to import the West End of London, hit by hit, to the Madinat theatre in order of length of service. Last week it was The Woman in Black, Britain's second-longest-running play after The Mousetrap. This week it's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a clownish riff on the bits of the Bard that everyone remembers, which is apparently London's longest-running stage comedy.

There's a Darwinian logic to this, I suppose. The last man standing is bound to have something going for him. It was true for Aerosmith, in as much as they were standing. If Shakespeare goes down well, we look forward to productions of Les Misérables and Oh! Calcutta.