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Aerosmith

(14 Nov 2012: Sprint Center — Kansas City, MO)

Boston’s classic rock bad boys, Aerosmith, performed a monumental and unequivocally impressive two hour set that featured mostly standard hits, some rarities, and few duds. As part of its Global Warming tour, the quintet vigorously played nearly twenty songs to an adoring, if relatively modest, crowd.

Aerosmith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, but its members had absolutely no plan to rest on its laurels. Indeed, the band very much appeared as if it were at its mid-1970s artistic and commercial peak. It was an exceptional and optimal gig by a veteran band with its fair share of dysfunction. Not so very long ago it was rumored that Steven Tyler would pursue a solo career (Brand Tyler), which fortunately never took flight. Now the band is promoting its new LP, Music From Another Dimension! Few bands have lasted this long amid such creative destruction, and few bands could maintain Aerosmith’s palpable high standard of performance—as demonstrated on this night.


With respect to the setlist, a great deal of emphasis was placed on a slew of power ballads, especially those popular hits from Permanent Vacation (1987) and Pump (1989): the racy, sensual gentlemen’s club regulars “Rag Doll” and “Love in an Elevator” won the night. But also the more romantic-oriented ballad “What It Takes” stood out, and singer Tyler’s voice held up astonishingly well throughout that song as well as the others. Frankly, the band concisely showcased songs from at least eight albums—dating all the way back to their self-titled debut in 1973. In fact, the band opened with the phenomenal, bluesy “Mama Kin” before playing three more songs from their debut, including the rarely played cover “Walkin’ the Dog”.


Three tracks arose from Toys in the Attic (1975), probably Aerosmith’s best album. These included “No More No More”, “Walk This Way”, and the most excellent “Sweet Emotion”. The set entailed several covers, the most celebrated of which being the Beatles’ “Come Together”. New song “Oh Yeah” wasn’t bad live, though it sounded a bit like Sunset Strip rockers Buckcherry. Even the pop-rock hit “Jaded” made the cut. However, the band stayed away from the Diane Warren-penned “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, an epic, romantic ballad in the vein of “What It Takes”.


The show’s acoustics were totally fine, an anomaly at Sprint Center. Tyler’s vocals were clean and Joe Perry and Brad Whitford’s guitars were loud, nuanced, astounding. The band had few words to say, and instead chose to prove its worth musically. Tyler briefly asked if the audience wanted to hear “old shit” or “new shit”—subsequently a lot of classic material made the cut. Highlights included Tyler’s surprise arrival, on piano, at the end of a catwalk for an unparalleled rendition of “Dream On”. Too, Brad Whitford’s guitar introduction to “Rag Doll” was as memorable as Tyler’s maniacal, frenetic dry humping during “Last Child”. Tyler and Perry’s shared singing duty during several songs was noteworthy as well. Bassist Tom Hamilton’s discipline was recognized, as was Perry’s brief moment on slide guitar.


Some concerns: A post-American IdolTyler spent most of the gig on the catwalk. When not trotting and dancing about, he stood at the end glued to his iconic scarf-laden microphone stand. Lead singers are typically the center of attention, but the vibe was quite different tonight. It almost seemed that two artists were performing—Steven Tyler and the band that was on the actual stage. The basic geography involved only heightened this matter. It’s not inconceivable that Tyler’s stint on a TV show increased his profile. Furthermore, Joey Kramer’s drum solo was less than stellar. Once again, the spark ignited when Tyler, a former drummer, began banging the drums with Kramer.


Nonetheless, principal vocalist Steven Tyler was an amazing amalgam of three notable and capable musicians. He rather immediately conjured the late, tragic blues queen Janis Joplin with his countless supply of scarves, with his androgynous retro-rock style, and with his undeniable blues/rock singing technique. But he also parodied the late, great Jim Morrison of the Doors insofar as he embodied Morrison’s spectacular and enigmatic, entranced facet—donning skin-tight leather pants and long, stringy hair. In addition, Tyler was considerably indebted to the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger. For example, Tyler has learned both how to keep a large crowd satisfied and how to maintain the necessary mid-to-late show stamina too. These moves aren’t easy, and it’s also significant to understand that Tyler and Aerosmith have been playing gigs since their formation in 1970. In short, Aerosmith was as tight as ever; it was a remarkable and entertaining gig from a classic rock and roll band.


SETLIST
Mama Kin
Love in an Elevator
Jaded
Oh Yeah
Livin’ on the Edge
Movin’ Out
Walkin’ the Dog
Last Child
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


William Carl Ferleman is a professional music journalist and scholar. He has attended more rock shows than Sir Mick Jagger. He has completed coursework for his Ph.D. in English Renaissance literature. His latest scholarly publication is entitled "What if Lady Macbeth Were Pregnant?: Amativeness, Procreation, and Future Dynasty in Maqbool" (www.borrowers.uga.edu). He appreciates Nietzsche's maxim: "Without music life would be a mistake." He enjoys politics, debate, theatre, and Jameson Irish whiskey. He sleeps with his contrarian pussycat, Issa. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from The University of Kansas.


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