Aerosmith, like any band that’s been around for more than four decades, has had it’s fair share of ups and downs. They’ve got the hits, yes, but there’s also the drug history, fighting, bad albums and the corresponding sales drops – Aerosmith is no stranger to the negative side of the music world.
Kicking off the second leg of the Global Warming Tour in Oklahoma City last night however, the band showcased that even after 42 (!!) years, they’ve still got what it takes to remain a major touring power. While new music will come and go with barely a shred of relevance (the band’s latest, Music From Another Dimension!, is out this week), Aerosmith, quite simply, is one of the best legacy acts touring today.
Thursday’s show at the Chesapeake Energy Arena found the band running through an almost 2-hour long set, touching base with a large amount of their musical past.
The band’s 39-year old debut single Mama Kin opened the show as the Toxic Twins – Mr. Joe Perry and Steven Tyler themselves, rose from a hidden door on a catwalk thrust out into the crowd. Perry’s gritty guitar work hasn’t lost any of its edge and if anything the rasp that Tyler’s voice has gathered over the years has just added more character to his vocal delivery.
Quickly proving just how many hits they’ve racked up over the years, a one-two punch of Love in an Elevator and Cryin’ were up next. Elevator found Tyler and tour keyboardist/backing vocalist Russ Irwin nailing the track’s irresistible vocal harmonies while Perry used his time in the spotlight to crack off a quick solo.
The band only played three tracks from their new Music From Another Dimension! LP. Oh Yeah and Lover Alot sound like you’d expect Aerosmith to sound in 2012, slightly updated but largely the same type of music they’ve been putting out since about 1997. Lover Alot is basically the world’s longest chorus and Tyler, noting the crowd’s less than enthusiastic response to the track, joked that it was a “grower” of a song. We’ll see.
The third new song, What Could Have Been Love is a straight power ballad, essentially I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing for 2012. It’s not quite as sickly saccharine as the aforementioned Armageddon/9th grade dance staple, but it is largely forgettable.
They have a lot of hits, and therefore didn’t have time to run through everything – but most of the big ones were present. Livin’ on the Edge sounded absolutely perfect, and seeing Joe Perry bust out a steel guitar for Rag Doll was a nice touch.
Steven Tyler opened up What It Takes with a lengthy, soulful acapella verse, giving his voice a chance to really shine. And that’s exactly what it did, garnering massive cheering from the audience in response. His voice has really held together well, and there was nary a bum note to be found throughout the entire show.
The band brought along a special guest for Come Together — Tyler’s former Idol co-judge Randy “The Dawg” Jackson. He strapped on a bass to play the track’s iconic rolling riff, doubling up with Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton. It sounded great until Tyler pulled another guest out on stage… none other than… Ryan Seacrest. Okay. No one could figure out why the Idolers were in Oklahoma City, but luckily Seacrest only had a microphone up to his mouth for one run through the chorus of Come Together.
The band closed out the main set with nearly studio-perfect takes on Sweet Emotion and Walk This Way. Walk remains one of the most timeless songs in Aerosmith’s library, somehow still sounding fresh even 37 years after it’s release.
The encore opened with Dream On, Tyler rising from a platform on the catwalk while playing a giant white piano. It was during Dream On that Tyler really proved his enduring vocal chops, nailing every single part of the song – even the crazy high-pitched screaming towards the climax. It was a chill inducing moment, made all the more powerful by Joe Perry climbing on top of Tyler’s piano to play the song’s solo as massive towers of smoke rose from the stage.
The show could have ended there but instead the band pulled out Dude (Looks Like a Lady) which changed the mood considerably but got people up and dancing for a few final minutes. The track hasn’t aged as well as some in Aerosmith’s repertoire but was still great to hear – particularly a fiery guitar solo Perry popped off at the song’s midway point.
While rumors of newer bouts of in-fighting have spread over the last few years, there was no indication of any unresolved drama on stage Thursday night. The guys showed up, rocked harder than any group of men in their 60s should be capable of doing and entertained an arena full of people for nearly two hours.
Seeing them run through such an expansive body of work makes me wonder which bands of our generation will be around in another 40 years and the list seems to be hard to pin down – they simply don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
Setlist: Mama Kin, Love in an Elevator, Cryin’, Oh Yeah, Livin’ on the Edge, What Could Have Been Love, Last Child, Drum Solo, Rag Doll, Boogie Man/Peter Gunn Theme, Combination, Lover Alot, What It Takes, No More No More, Come Together, Sweet Emotion, Mother Popcorn/Walk This Way, Dream On, Dude (Looks Like a Lady)