Aging rockers Aerosmith showed they still have what it takes in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 50,000 at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park Wednesday night, but technical issues during the group’s first Israel gig in 23 years left some fans cryin’.
Dressed in a sleeveless red ruffled shirt, a silver lamé cape and red shoes, lead singer Steven Tyler greeted the crowd with a short “Tel Aviv!” followed a little later by a well-rehearsed “Erev tov!”
Later on he would tell the cheering masses, “Tel Aviv! I’m making aliyah!” using the Hebrew term for immigrating to Israel. Dude, it turns out, looks like an Israeli.
The Israel stop was the first on the rock band’s world tour, which will take it throughout Europe and the US, so it’s unlikely the iconic singer will be standing in line at the Interior Ministry for his Israeli ID card anytime soon.
(On Thursday, Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky invited Tyler to contact its Global Service Center to start the Aliyah process. The Agency added, in its light-hearted statement: Note: The Jewish Agency has no information to indicate whether Steven Tyler would indeed be eligible for Aliyah.)
The comment was one of the few interactions the 69-year-old grandfather had with the audience, instead conserving his energy for dancing around the stage, his silver jacket, long brown hair and scarves flying in the cool May breeze.
The concert’s song list started with some lesser known Aerosmith tunes, before leading into “Livin’ on the Edge,” to the delight of the crowd. Tyler crowed, “Tel Aviv, you’re living on the edge!”
That may have been the longest comment he made to the crowd, with the exception of several audible remarks about minor technical difficulties the band was experiencing with the microphones, which caused some rocky transitions between songs.
According to some reports in the Israeli press, a number of fans left the concert early after being frustrated with the poor sound issues.
Supermodel Bar Refaeli was not among them. After several items in the press about the possibility of Refaeli appearing on stage to sing with Tyler and then cancelling that appearance, Tyler called out to Refaeli, sitting in the nearby VIP section, “Bar Refaeli, this song is for you, baby!”
“Crazy,” for which he walked out to Refaeli and took a selfie with her, was followed by lead guitarist Joe Perry’s solo accompanied by Tyler on harmonica, with accompanying video footage of Perry performing in an empty Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, during the course of the band’s visit, and chatting briefly with new US Ambassador David Friedman at the Western Wall on Tuesday.
The second half of the concert picked up the pace, as Aerosmith played covers of Fleetwood Mac and later of the Beatles.
The band tied up the rest of the show with “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” the Beatles’ “Come Together” and “Love in an Elevator,” including Tyler’s famed screeches where necessary, before Tyler called out another final “Mazal tov” to the crowd.
He came back for the encore having changed into a T-shirt, and sat down to play piano for “Dream On” and “Walk This Way,” first asking Joe Perry if he needed any throat spray to continue singing.
Perry told the audience that “23 years is much too long” a time between visits. At that, the 69-year-old Tyler pulled off his shirt, showed off his still smooth chest, wished us good night with a “laila tov” and “mazal tov” again, and was gone.