Nearly 40 years after releasing its first album, Aerosmith is still in the music business, still making records, still touring, still whipping big crowds into moments of frenzy.
Wednesday night, the rock-blues band from Boston drew a crowd of about 9,000 to the Sprint Center, where, for two hours, it proved you’re never too old to sing the blues or 40-year-old solid-gold classic-rock songs.
Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and the rest of the band are all in their 60s; Tyler will turn 65 in March. Seniority hasn’t fazed any of them, especially Tyler, who still struts all over the stage like a preening rooster. His voice isn’t what it used to be, but it is still serviceable -- at times impressive -- and he remains as dynamic and entertaining a frontman as there is in the business.
They opened with something from their self-titled, debut album, “Mama Kin,” then one of their standards from nearly 20 years later, “Love in an Elevator,” then a hit from their foray in tin Top 40 pop, “Jaded.”
Earlier this month, the band released its 15th studio album, “Music From Another Dimension.” The music doesn’t necessarily live up to that title, but it does fit in with the rest of the band’s catalog. They played two of its tracks. One of them was “Oh, Yeah,” another rollicking, primal rock-blues anthem that, like nearly every song played this evening, was larded with guitar licks from Perry. He was given plenty of spotlight all night, showing off his many guitar-slinger moves and his array of guitars (including the one that bears an image of his wife, Billie) and singing lead vocals once.
Every one else had at least one solo moment, including drummer Joey Kramer, whose long instrumental was interrupted by Tyler, who stood behind him, banging out a few rhythms for a minute or so.
Tyler, however, remains the premier force in this band, thanks to a personality that embraces all its excesses and quirks and charms. He still dresses like he’s a rock star in his prime (so does Perry), and still acts like he is, too.
His voice stayed strong, if not always steady, for the full two hours. A few times he proved he could hit and sustain the high notes, if not always precisely. He gave a big thanks to Russ Irwin, the band’s longtime touring keyboardist, who chipped in substantially on background vocals.
The sound this evening could have been cleaner, though it was much better during Aerosmith’s set than during Cheap Trick’s, the opener. The stage, which included a long runway, was flanked by two banks of spotlights that beamed intermittently and an enormous video screen behind the band that broadcast live images and recorded video footage, including some featuring Perry that was taken earlier in the day, in the streets outside the arena.
The rest of the set included well-known covers: of Rufus Thomas’ “Walkin’ the Dog” and of the Beatles’ “Come Together.” Tyler asked the crowd whether it wanted older stuff or newer stuff, and the response seemed unambiguous. For the most part, that’s what the band delivered: nuggets and standards like “Last Child” and “Rag Doll.”
For the home stretch, they saved all the heavy ammunition, ending the first set with “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” and “Walk This Way," then coming back for an encore that comprised their two best-known songs: “Dream On” and “Sweet Emotion.” For “Dream On,” Tyler started at a white grand piano, immersed in fog/smoke. Perry would end up atop that piano, where he unleashed one more hail of guitar licks.
By show’s end, it was raining confetti, Perry and Tyler were shirtless (Perry used his shirt to beat his guitar during “Sweet Emotion”) and their fans stood and devoured it, many of them just ike they did 40 years ago.
Cheap Trick: They opened with a one-hour set that was energetic but suffered from a sound that was too bright and too muddy. Throughout the set, lyrics were nearly undiscernable at times.They are still touring without founding drummer Bun E. Carlos, who has been replaced by Daxx Nielsen, son of lead guitarist Rick Nielsen. Compared to previous shows, Rick Nielsen was relatively light with the jovial banter. Highlights: The back-to-back openers, "Hello, There" and "Elo Kiddies," and the closing four songs, which included their ace power ballad, "The Flame," "Dream Police" and "Surrender."
Cheap Trick: Hello, There; Elo Kiddies; California Man; On Top of the World; Ain’t That A Shame; I Know What I Want; Baby Loves to Rock; Sick Man of Europe; The Flame; I Want You to Want Me; Dream Police; Surrender.
Aerosmith: Mama Kin; Love In An Elevator; Jaded; Oh, Yeah; Living on the Edge; Movin’ Out; Walkin’ the Dog; Last Child; drum solo; Rag Doll; Boogie Man; Combination; Lover Alot; What It Takes; No More, No More; Come Together; Dude (Looks Like A Lady); Walk This Way. Encore: Dream On; Sweet Emotion.
|Timothy Finn, The Star