On Friday night, legendary Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry brought his solo tour to the historic Arcada Theater in St. Charles, Illinois.
The Joe Perry Project
Arcada Theater in St. Charles, Illinois – 21 April 2023
Words and Photography: Ben Tschetter
In 2018, Perry dealt with health problems, forcing him to cancel a run of shows which included an appearance in the Chicago area. Since then, fans have eagerly awaited hearing the American guitar icon’s spectacular playing live. The wait, however, was finally over this week when Perry brought The Joe Perry Project – his band alongside a seasoned handful of musicians and his friends – to Illinois for two back-to-back shows, the second of which MetalTalk was there for.
The Joe Perry Project, Perry’s solo project when not touring with Aerosmith, attempted to tour in 2018 but ultimately ended up waiting until 2022 for their first shows together since 2010. Fronted by Gary Cherone of Extreme and backed by keyboardist Buck Johnson (touring Aerosmith), bassist David Hull (touring Aerosmith), and drummer Jason Sutter (Cher), Joe Perry took much of the spotlight as the band rocked a solid set that included classic rock covers, Joe Perry solo tunes, Aerosmith deep cuts, and one or two crowd-pleaser Aerosmith hits to end the night on a high note.
Perry began by diving into ’70s Aerosmith deep cuts Somebody, S.O.S (Too Bad), and Lick And A Promise, with his own tunes scattered between. Diehard Aerosmith fans roared as the opening notes played, but with his skilled playing and hard-hitting riffs, the room seemed alive and pleased by the end of each song, even as many were unfamiliar to most.
Joe Perry primarily did the banter between songs as he prefaced nearly every song with gracious band member introductions or background information on the tracks. Halfway through the set, Perry made a heartfelt mention of his recently-departed friend, Jeff Beck, before performing the late guitarist’s signature Beck’s Bolero piece, which the former nailed with precision and soul.
Following this cover, Perry introduced Flying Saucer Rock & Roll, a rockabilly classic by Billy Lee Riley, and Perry stepped to the mic to lead the song. After an energetic performance, well-received by the room, Perry announced, “We really love to play this song, so why don’t we play it again?” and repeated the song twice in a row.
Adding to the wide range of riff-heavy rock tunes, Perry also played and highlighted tracks from his recent 2018 record Sweetzerland Manifesto and new unreleased tracks from his upcoming follow-up, Sweetzerland Manifesto MKII.
Many Perry solo tracks featured an all-star lineup of vocalists, but Cherone’s live vocals were impressive, to say the least, and did each track justice, from Perry’s newer songs all the way to classic Aerosmith cuts.
Each song of the night had the room moving and hyper-focused on the otherworldly display of musicianship taking place onstage. Each song highlighted Perry’s impressive abilities, from more soulful blues tracks to the upbeat and famous riffs of his days in Aerosmith.
After powering through each phase of Perry’s career through song, the band broke into the Tiny Bradshaw classic Train Kept A’ Rollin’, made especially famous by Aerosmith and Perry’s monster riffs. The crowd roared along to the song before the band left the stage, only to be cheered into an encore.
As Perry returned to the mic, he proclaimed to the crowd, “I know with the internet, everybody looks at the setlists ahead of time. So who already knows what else we are going to play?”
As the crowd responded, Perry prefaced his next song choice – Aerosmith’s Lightning Strikes, from the one album by the band Perry did not appear on, Rock In A Hard Place. “[Gary] Cherone comes up to me and goes ‘Are we really going to play that one?’ to which I said yes we are”, and seamlessly broke into another impressive live rendition.
To close the night, Perry pleased the entire room by breaking into Aerosmith’s 1975 Toys In The Attic hit, Walk This Way, and the impassioned musicians locked into place to deliver what the crowd certainly was there for.
Throughout the night, it was evident that this show was Joe Perry’s passion project to get together and jam his songs with friends. After 50 years as a world-renowned musician and at the peak of his well-documented adventures throughout the years, Joe Perry proved he is at the top of his game and has only mastered his craft, evidenced through each spectacular moment of his performance.
Catch Joe Perry on tour worldwide with Hollywood Vampires in 2023, and keep an eye out, as Aerosmith are expected to make a big announcement on 1 May.