If you thought you had to go out tonight for some hard rock, think again: You can stay home with Aerosmith. Cable's A&E network offers an event-filled, supersonic two hours, the kind one might expect from Boston's Bad Boys. They're in confessional mode backstage, at rehearsals, and in the studio -- and they're in all-out concert mode during footage from their latest tour. Frankly, no true A-smith fan will want to miss it.
The special "Aerosmith: You Gotta Move" (debuting at 9 p.m.) captures the mania of the Steven Tyler/Joe Perry partnership and fleshes out the personalities of the band's other members, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer. The show's verdict is that whatever the individual talents involved, these guys have a chemistry that makes them "America's hometown band," as Perry puts it.
Of course, this particular hometown band travels in a Learjet and in opulent buses that look as if they should be shipped immediately to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. But strip away the accouterments of long-term success and there's a basic nucleus of guys who still enjoy their music as much as any band out there. And the proof is in the many classic hits they perform onstage (the concert footage, astonishingly well done, was directed by Mark Haefeli, who also helmed the two-hour TV special "Paul McCartney Back in the US") and in the vintage blues songs they sizzle through at Perry's Boneyard Studio on the South Shore. These latter cuts were just released on the "Honkin' on Bobo" CD, which marks a return to Aerosmith's bluesy roots in Boston in the '70s.
The sheer magnitude of the Aerosmith concert express is also delineated. Assistant tour manager John Bionelli notes that the band travels with 60 people and hires another 100 in each city. The tour trucks around 80,000 pounds of equipment. "It's much more than a circus," Bionelli says. "It's a great caravan."
Within that circus atmosphere, though, there actually are quiet moments. The most sensitive leaves the strutting of Tyler and the manic guitar riffing of Perry far behind. It comes when a young boy with cancer gets to go backstage to meet his idols. Chemotherapy has taken his hair, but his eyes are bright and saucer-sized.
That's when Aerosmith seems less like a bunch of rock stars and more like America's hometown band.
Aerosmith: You Gotta Move
Time: Friday, 9-11 p.m.