Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton tried to act calm before Monday night's kickoff of the Mama Kin Music Hall, but he kept shaking his head. ''I keep forgetting that we are half-owners of this place,'' he said. ''We're really hanging our butts out. People will judge us personally by this club.'' Well, so far he's got nothing to worry about. The club -- and Aerosmith's national radio broadcast to launch it -- won raves Monday night. The band juggled its song list, digging out archival blues from it s own struggling club days. And Mama Kin was the perfect showcase for it -- intimate and laid-back, with deep, purple-stained booths, red bordello lights and a sound system that was so good even audiophiles had to drool.
Installed by Boston-based Mark Davis, the sound system made you feel that you were at a perfectly tuned Orpheum concert. It was amazing to think that you were instead in a 250-capacity club. Many people in Monday night's crowd were musicians -- from Peter Wolf to James Montgomery -- and the club's stunning sound quality was the foremost topic of discussion.
That's not to mention some of the other touches in this club, which, regardless of Aerosmith opening it (they co-own it with the Lyons Group), is aimed at new, scrapping bands. "There's a dressing room for the band? Wow, at this level? What a concept," said Burt Holman, who manages the Allman Brothers and is based in Boston.
"This is beautiful, man," said a blissed-out Steven Tyler from the stage, as he looked out on a happily dazed crowd that included celebrities from Boston Bruin Cam Neely to WBCN disc jockey Mark Parenteau, but also a number of true-blue fans who won tickets. "Let me thank the lunatic fringe of Boston who made their way down here," Tyler said.
Aerosmith went on promptly at 10:30 (following a gritty set by Tracy Bonham) for a radio broadcast carried by WAAF, WBCN and WZLX. The band went full-speed into the Yardbirds' "Train Kept a-Rollin'," as the sound thundered with pris- tine accuracy around the room. Guitarist Joe Perry then took charge with a savage guitar burst on "Same Old Song and Dance," leading to the jarring "Big Ten Inch," then a steamy new "Walk on Water" (from the recently released "Big Ones").
The concert proceeded at a delirious, high-energy clip. The Memphis standard "Walkin' the Dog" was a nice treat. And so was Fleetwood Mac's "Rattlesnake Shake," otherwise known as "a little tale about self-abuse," said Tyler, who added that he felt the presence of Janis Joplin and Peter Green (of Fleetwood Mac) in the room. No doubt there will be many more presences felt before this spectacular new club (which opens as a rock lounge today, then a live club in mid-January) runs its course.
Boston Globe, December 20, 1994