LIVE: Aerosmith @ the Times Union Center, 6/29/12

Review by Greg Haymes

Steven Tyler has jumped the shark so many times – I mean, really, Burger King commercials? – that it’s sometimes difficult to remember that he is indeed still one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most charismatic frontmen.

On Friday night at the Times Union Center, Tyler and guitarslinger Joe Perry exploded into the opening “Draw the Line” at the far end of the runway, smack dab in the middle of the crowd. It’s a bit of staging that most bands throw in toward the middle or end of their set in an effort to establish a sense of intimacy in a big arena-rock show. But Aerosmith started the show there and then just kept on ratcheting it up notch after notch as the show continued for nearly two hours.

Tyler’s magnificent howl is intact and as magnetic as ever. And he worked the crowd tirelessly, snaking, slithering, skipping, spinning and sashaying all up and down the runaway for most of the night, stopping only occasionally to mug for the cameras that provided the live video feed backdrop to the stage, where the rest of the band – guitarist Brad Whitford (clad in black from his cowboy hat to his boots), bassist Tom Hamilton (dressed all in white) and drummer Joey Kramer – remained anchored for most of the night.

Each of the bandmembers had his individual moment in the spotlight during the evening. Perry fired up “Boogie Man” before sliding into his lone vocal of the night with “Combination.” Whitford offered a solo blues guitar intro to the funk-rocker “Last Child,” the highlight of the night and proof positive Aerosmith packs plenty of swing as well as swagger. Kramer’s drum solo followed, and by the end of it, he’d thrown away his drumsticks and was flailing away at his kit with his bare hands. Hamilton’s solo bass segment led into one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the night, “Sweet Emotion.”

The band was augmented by three backing vocalists, who also provided accompaniment on keyboards, sax and percussion, although they were semi-hidden behind a wall of onstage amplifiers. Kramer’s son, Jesse, added a bit of percussion along the way, too.

Of course, Aerosmith pumped out most of their biggest hits – “Love in an Elevator,” “Cryin’,” “Livin’ On the Edge,” “Walk This Way,” the cheeseball ballad “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and the towering “Dream On” (with Tyler on a white grand piano) – but it was their tougher-edged performances that hit the mark most consistently, including the blues honker “Big Ten-Inch Record” and a bruising rendition of “Back in the Saddle Again” that ended with Tyler humping a fan (an electrical, wind-blowing fan, that is).

But they also sneak-previewed two tunes from the band’s upcoming album, “Music From Another Dimension,” whose release date was pushed back from August to November just this week. While “Legendary Child” seemed like little more than a slight variation on “Walk This Way,” the gritty, blues-based rocker “Oh Yeah,” offering the hope of a return to Aerosmith’s vintage, pre-MTV sound.

Cheap Trick’s hour-long opening set was a disappointment, however, sabotaged by a relentlessly murky, muddy sound mix. Opening with “Hello There” and closing with “Goodnight” (and the requisite appearance of Rick Neilsen’s five-neck guitar monstrosity), Robin Zander and crew churned through some of their best known covers (Roy Wood’s “California Man” and Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” before settling in with a lengthy stretch of less than stellar tunes. But the crowd didn’t get involved until “Surrender” deep in the set, and they didn’t get on their feet until “I Want You to Want Me.” But by then, it was a case of too little too late.

Draw the Line
Love in an Elevator
Oh Yeah
Livin’ On the Edge
S.O.S. (Too Bad)
Last Child
(drum solo)
Back in the Saddle Again
Boogie Man
What It Takes
No More, No More
Legendary Child
I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing
Big Ten-Inch Record
Sweet Emotion
Walk This Way
Dream On
Train Kept a-Rollin’

Hello There
California Man
Ain’t That a Shame
Never Had a Lot to Lose
Sick Man of Europe
Baby Loves to Rock
Need Your Love
I Know What I Want
The Flame
I Want You to Want Me
Dream Police

1 Comment
  1. Oates77 says

    CT’s “Sick Man of Europe” is 2 minutes of pure bliss.

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