The mighty Aerosmith were the third headliner of the Download weekend, closing the festival on Sunday evening. Aerosmith are a staple of pop culture; their music is often the most memorable part of the film and TV shows they feature in. They long ago transitioned from musicians to cultural icons through their particular brand of rock, blues and metal. This performance was billed as their last ever UK show – there was therefore some moments of reflection and poignancy as the band shared memories via video interludes throughout their set.
Steve Tyler looked and sounded amazing. The performance was full of spectacle and a desire to entertain. After five decades of similar performances, what else can you do but be in awe of the band and of the lead singer, a septuagenarian who remained sprightly, still lithe and decked out in purple? It makes me think of the poem by Jenny Joseph – forget aging gracefully is the message.
It was close to bitterly cold at the festival that evening. Loaded up with churros and chocolate and a bottle of wine, we sang our hearts out to almost every song. We laughed at the clichés and the terrible visuals for Love in an elevator, but they didn’t dampen the spirits. Aerosmith signified the closure of a packed weekend of music. The whole event had run smoothly as far as I could tell, and that was thanks to every member of staff who looked out for the eager fans from the moment the doors opened.
Admittedly, the songs were cheesy and, at times, dated, but they were mixed with the epic as well. Hearing the opening chords of Dream On and hearing Tyler dedicate the track to the emotional state of a nation traumatised by recent events in Manchester was both thoughtful and heart-warming. There was not a sense of an ending for Aerosmith. Perhaps that’s just as it should be.