On this date in history, 5/17/1986, a bunch of my friends and I went to a concert that sparked a debate that went on for years among us.
The argument concerned who was more awesome between Aerosmith and Ted Nugent, who shared the bill on this night at our favorite venue of that time, Market Square Arena.
Ted took the stage first in his inimitable wild man from Borneo trademark style, all high intensity, ear shredding lead guitar and gonzo stage raps, like an auctioneer on meth. All the classics from “Free For All” to “Stranglehold” were delivered at maximum intensity and volume.
TED NUGENT – Stranglehold
Half of my crowd were convinced that nothing could top this…and then Aerosmith appeared.
This was my first (of many) times to see the bad boys from Boston, and what a first impression it was.
Hard times had been the rule as opposed to the exception for the past several years in the Aerosmith camp. Joe Perry and Brad Whitford had both left the band and tested the waters as solo acts, while Steven Tyler enlisted a couple of hired hands and released an album that still sounded great but failed to yield any hits.
Fast forward to the time of this show and the wayward guitar tag team had returned and the reunited original five recorded and released Done With Mirrors, a solid record, but once again no singles were lighting the charts on fire.
However, on this night, apparently the Nuge brought out the best in Aerosmith, and they came out swinging.
A few songs from the new album were played, but all the magic was in the classics. “Walk This Way”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Last Child”, and the ultimate power ballad, “Dream On”, were infused with stellar performances.
Aerosmith – Dream On
Tyler matched Nugent’s energy, but in a more focused way. My vote was on the Aerosmith side of the coin, as I argued that they played better as a band, whereas Ted was all about, well…Ted!
Ultimately, we all had to concede that this was one rock solid slab of kick ass American music.
A year later and Aerosmith came out with Permanent Vacation and the hit machine was back in a big way.
This show was a preview of a band that was finding its purpose once again and it remains a thrilling memory.
Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic