Concert Review: Joe Perry & Friends Rock The Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom

With Brad Whitford, Charlie Farren, Gary Cherone, David Hull

HAMPTON, NEW HAMPSHIRE – It isn’t very often one gets the chance to see their two favorite artists together onstage but this lucky fan got to say just that, after recently seeing famed Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry (& friends) perform a sold-out solo show at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in Hampton, New Hampshire. One of those “friends” just so happened to be singer-songwriter Charlie Farren, my other favorite artist after Joe.

Review by Joe Milliken * Photos by Michael Sparks Keegan 1. Joe Perry and Gary Cherone 2. Joe rips through a solo 3. Joe and Charlie Farren 4. Joe and David Hull

Yes, it was truly a “bucket list” show for me, For I waited some 35-plus years to see Joe and Charlie reunited onstage. In 1981 and during my “formative years,” Charlie was a member of The Joe Perry Project, appearing on his I’ve Got the Rock and Rolls Again album and also going on a national tour. So, to see this duo rocking again was great a treat, and something I thought I’d never get a chance to witness. Other friends performing on this night included Joe’s fellow guitarist and Aerosmith bandmate, Brad Whitford, ex-Extreme singer, Gary Cherone, bassist extraordinaire David Hull (Buddy Miles, FARRENHEIT), keyboard player Dizzy Reed (Guns ‘N’ Roses) and drummer Jason Sutter (Smash Mouth, Marilyn Manson).

The ballroom was packed and buzzing when the show-opening “Rumble In The Jungle” (from Perry’s latest solo CD, Sweetzerland Manifesto) blared from the PA as the band scurried to their places onstage, before the spotlights hit and the they kicked into The Project staple “Let The Music Do The Talking,” followed up by the equally fast-paced Aerosmith favorite “Toys In The Attic” and the first curve ball of the night, the deep Aero-album cut “Pandora’s Box” from 1974’s Get Your Wings. What a treat and Cherone's vocal-take was crisp and melodic.

Joe took the lead vocal next and exchanged brief pleasantries with the enthusiastic crowd, before diving into the hard-rocking “Shakin’ My Cage” from his 2005, self-titled solo album. Cherone then belted out “Aye, Aye, Aye” from the new release, before Mr. Whitford took his familiar lead guitar perch on the Aerosmith classic “Last Child.” Facing off like they’ve done a million times before, Joe laid down a funky groove while Brad pulled off a controlled, yet blistering solo on the Rocks gem. Next up was another new track, “I’ll Do Happiness,” which led into another deep Aerosmith cut with “Combination” (also from the legendary Rocks.

Then the moment I was truly waiting for, when Charlie Farren appeared onstage holding the classic ’68 Telcaster guitar he bought as a member of the original Project, to perform the two songs he is well-known for with Joe, ”East Coast, West Coast” and “I’ve Got the Rock and Rolls Again.” The house rocked hard and I was amazed at the energy and joy it gave me to witness this reunion, it truly ranked up there with any “concert moment” that I’ve experienced.

After happily flipping out over what I’d just seen, I loved hearing the band drift into the Aerosmith classics “Seasons of Wither” and “Adams Apple,” then The Project favorite “Rockin’ Train,” complete with a bad-ass-rockin’ bass solo from the aforementioned David Hull. David has been playing in bands with Joe (including Aerosmith, when Tom Hamilton took a break from the road for health reasons) going back to 1980. This segment would have really been all I needed to see and hear; everything else was just icing on the cake.

The encore was simply killer rock-and-roll as the band cranked up “Train Kept’ A Rollin’,” a cover of Strangelove’s “Night Time” (also made popular by J. Geils Band) in which Joe took the lead vocal, and then they brought down the house with the Aerosmith show-stopper “Walk This Way.” It also must be duly noted that one Gary Cherone was great, doing his best Steven Tyler impersonation throughout the night, surely a daunting task and passed with flying colors.

As for Joe, who has been swinging an axe onstage for Aerosmith nearly five decades strong, his solo performances are an outlet which allows him to stretch out and experiment, sing a little more and roam the rock-and-roll landscape without feeling the heat of the Aerosmith spotlight and the heavy weight of that whole train ride of fame. He gets to play intimate venues and simply plug in, tear it up and walk away from the aftermath. On this night, he left it smoldering.