NEW YORK, NY—Side projects are the extra marital affairs of pop music—they’re the time in which an artist can explore all of the kinky things that their main band is just not interested in. This is a notion Joe Perry obviously never considered when putting together the current incarnation of the Joe Perry Project.
The band opened their set with “Let The Music Do The Talking,” the only single from Aerosmith’s 1985 reunion album Done With Mirrors. The song would have been the first shot fired in the would-be war between Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, had Tyler not made an appearance later in the show.
At the song’s conclusion, Perry announced, “Let’s blow all that shit out of the air,” and went tearing into his version of the Woody Guthrie classic “Vigilante Man,” that appeared on 2005’s Joe Perry. Thanks to a punishing metallic grind the song was so much heavier than Guthrie could have ever imagine possible.The lead clink of the cover was the perfect segue-way into Have Guitar, Will Travel’s first single, “We’ve Got A Long Way To Go.” From there the band took another step way back into Perry’s catalog for “Get The Lead Out” from Rocks, which Perry introduced as “One of my favorites,” and “Slingshot” from the current Project album.
The Joe Perry Project’s inclination to take a stab at Aerosmith’s classic material is one which initially came off as statement-making and with time, became irritating. This is largely due to singer Hagen Grohe sounding and performing an awful lot like that other singer Perry is most often associated with. Indeed, at times it appeared as though the entire evening’s performance was a job interview of sorts given all of the back in forth in the press.
It is an unfortunate byproduct as Perry is still a delight visually and sonically due to his complete confidence in the new material and band. As a direct result, no matter how much one is irked by Grohe, it’s hard to deny the rumble coming off of the stage and literally shaking the venue when The Project performs.
After the brief detour it was back to Project materials with “Do You Wonder,“ a strong power ballad which the band hopes to release as a second single. Before going into the next song, Perry took center stage to explain that he’d been offered the opportunity to be the main attraction on a month-long cruise by an unnamed corporate entity, and the only requirement was that he perform a certain song, a certain way every evening. That certain song turned out to be “Dream On,” and that certain way was as a reggae song. While many fans would consider somebody other than Tyler singing the anthem an out and out musical injustice, it must be admitted that this particular take on that song may be something Aerosmith may want to consider testing out sometime in front of an audience if only for kicks.
From there The Project went through “Scare The Cat,“ an unreleased track, “Combination,” and “Toys In The Attic.” The first song of the encore was “Walk This Way,” in which The Joe Perry Project was accompanied by Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, who announced to the crowd “New York, I just want you to know that I’m not quitting Aerosmith,“ and added “Joe, you’re a man of many colors, but I’m the whole fucking rainbow.” After the raucous rendition, The Project finished off the set with “Stop Messin’ Around.”