The idea of a band like Aerosmith playing at The Marquee is about as ludicrous as you can get. Giants of rock who'd been second on the bill to Whitesnake at the Monsters Of Rock Festival two days earlier now performing before a crowd of about 500 people? It was a memorable insanity!
Aerosmith, live at the Marquee Club in 1990
Venue: The Marquee Club, London
What a night to remember
The queues outside the venue in Central London were, as expected, ridiculous. Actually, it wasn't anything like a queue, more a shambles of desperate people trying to shoehorn their way into a club that clearly was never built for such deconstructive behaviour. Passing tourists looked on aghast at a scene resembling a stampede.
Inside, the Marquee was cunningly split. The downstairs was for genuine ticket holders, the real fans, if you want to be accurate. Upstairs was reserved for guests, the normal melee of media types, industry big wigs and the occasional muso. Oh, and the usual coterie of ligging types. Once you got to the balcony, it was a case of holding on to a selected spot, because if you dared to inch towards the bar, or any other locale, then you were lost.
For Aerosmith, it was a fun night. They knew there was no need at all to impress anyone – this was their crowd, and the whooping and hollering that enveloped them as they strode onstage was enough to assure this was gonna be a spectacular performance, one never to be forgotten.
The band lashed into opener Monkey On My Back, with Steven Tyler clearly revelling in the enclosed space. He looked the part of... well, Steven Tyler, a raucous, rowdy rock rooster, and the way he moved around during F.I.N.E. held all the attention.
Not that the rest of the band were anonymous. Joe Perry strode into the guitar chords for Walkin' The Dog, a song which he always seemed to make his own, and Back In The Saddle was given true anthemic status by a blazing five-way collision of sounds. It was peerless, and so much better than the band had been at Donington, when a little hampered by the occasion.
The set was a bold mix of old school Aero faves and the newer space invaders. Janie's Got A Gun cut through with presence, Mama Kin had a teasing swing and Voodoo Medicine Man was blissfully focused.
But after Toys In The Attic turned the air a redder shade of hot, Tyler stepped up to introduce the night's special guest, as Jimmy Page shuffled onstage, plugged in and played five songs. It began with I Ain't Got You and Think About It, two blues classics which The Yardbirds virtually annexed, but were also associated with Aerosmith. They then stretched into Hendrix's Red House (with Perry on vocals), before Immigrant Song brought us into the Zeppelin landscape, and finally Train Kept A Rollin' finished the main set. Oddly, Page appeared more relaxed on this last number than anything else he did tonight; he'd also played Train... at Donington with Aerosmith.
The four-song encore gave us Young Lust and Love In An Elevator from the still fresh Pump album, together with the inevitable Dream On and finale Walk This Way (what else?). The whole set flew past in a blur, such was the magnetic pull of the occasion, and Tyler for one seemed very reluctant to leave the stage at the end. You felt he was ready for more!
Upstairs, two of the guys from Ratt were among those looking on. One wag sidled up to Stephen Pearcy at the end of the set and said to him, 'Well, that was dangerous but worth the risk!'. It took the singer a few moments to realise he was being quoted the title of a Ratt track! But in a way that comment summed up the night: it was so hot you felt in imminent danger of collapse. But would any of us have missed it? Hell, no!