Aerosmith a winning bet
Rockers’ residency in Vegas is a must-see
By Steve Metsch
When my son and I booked a vacation to Las Vegas, we were pleased to learn that Aerosmith would be performing at the Park Theater at Park MGM, our hotel.
It was one of those “we gotta” moments.
So, we did. He had never seen them and I hadn’t seen them in a long time. With fees, each ticket cost about $100, the best hundy we laid down during our five days in Sin City.
Yes, The Toxic Twins, band leaders Joe Perry and Steven Tyler, are getting up there in years, Tyler is 71 and Perry is 68. But they are clearly not about to ride off into the sunset. Far from it. After the show. Perry said it looked like fans had taken a chance “and you won.”
We sure did.
Aerosmith and Joe Perry were in fine form in Las Vegas, where the band has a residency for 17 more shows this year. Photos by Steve Metsch.
The sound was perfect. So was the stage. The light show was dazzling. This is, after all, Vegas. There were even seats on the sides of the stage. I’m not sure how much those cost. We were content in the balcony.
Aerosmith, which will celebrate its 50th year in 2020, is doing one of those Vegas residencies. A performer sets up shop in a certain theater for a few months and they don’t have to deal with the rigors of touring. It’s a brilliant way to perform. No living out of a suitcase, jetting from city to city. No dealing with crazy weather in a series of outdoor stadiums. And the fans get to include a great show as part of their Vegas vacation. This is the best sure thing I’ve seen in years.
Their June 24 concert was billed to start at 8 p.m., but that’s when a half-hour movie about the band starts. We see their nerdy teenage photos, learn more about each band member, how Aerosmith got together, etc. It’s pretty cool although sanitized. Nowhere was in mentioned how they almost drew one too many lines in the 1970s, and almost partied themselves into early graves.
That said, I’m glad they did clean up their acts because this was one heck of a concert.
The band opened with one of their best covers, “The Train Kept A-Rollin’ ” to thunderous applause. I was surprised at how tight the band sounded and how Tyler’s vocals seemingly have lost nothing after all those years.
Tyler being Tyler, he wasn’t one to censor himself. After the song ended, he mentioned that some people have asked “when we will change the set list. How about right (expletive) now?” he yelled as the band tore into a sizzling version of “Draw the Line,” with that incredible hook.
Okay, I must admit that going in, I was a tad worried. I wondered if a long residency would somehow bore that band, that it would just go through the motions. Nope. Not these guys. They were all business – more on that later – and delivered a solid set just shy of two hours.
Perry was outstanding on the slide guitar during “Rag Doll,” which led to “Kings and Queens,” an oldie from the ’70s which hardly gets airplay on classic rock radio but should. A nice solo by guitarist Brad Whitford, 67, kicked it off.
Then it was time for Tom Hamilton, 67, to grab the spotlight when he stated laying down that distinctive bass line for their huge hit song, “Sweet Emotion.” And, yes, it very sweet performance of that song capped with a long solo by Perry.
The crowd, which ranged in age from teens to senior citizens, roared with the intro to each song. Let’s face, it, there are so many good songs by this band, it’s hard to not know every song played.
There were highlights aplenty like Tyler trading harmonica riffs with Perry’s guitar for “Hangman Jury” from “Permanent Vacation,” the 1987 album that helped re-establish Aerosmith as a rock icon.
Tyler, a former judge on the TV series “American Idol,” was in fine form all night. He’s up there in my book with Mick Jagger when it comes to frontmen. Am amusing segment had him seeking from the audience a hat to wear.
Perry remains one of the more under-rated lead guitarists going. He knows how much is enough for each solo. And he’s got a good singing voice, as heard on their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Stop Messin’ Around.” With Tyler again on the harmonica and Perry on guitar, the bluesy number sounded terrific.
“Can you (deleted) believe this band? It’s like looking into a yearbook. It’s (expletive) crazy, man,” said Tyler who proudly introduced each member with interesting adjectives like “Joey (expletive) Kramer on drums.” The reliable Kramer is a youthful 69.
Several young ladies sitting in front of us squealed with delight when the band started playing “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Meh. The syrupy ballad was okay, but I was wishing for “Big Ten Inch Record,” a rare cover they played in Tinley Park years ago. A friend and I that night were among the handful of fans who cheered when we recognized the double-entrende classic.
Anyhow, back to Vegas …
The band proved it is not resting on laurels with a closing trifecta that floored us.
A fun “Love In An Elevator” had Tyler singing as he walked through the crowd. They then ripped into “Toys In the Attic,” which sounded as great as it did when we first heard it back in 1975. Watch for huge toys descending from the ceiling. And then they closed with a rollicking “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).” It was rock ‘n’ roll heaven for us, even though Tyler did get mad when a few stray balloons intended for later floated down.
“Way to go, road crew,” he muttered before leaving the stage with the band.
After a lengthy absence – perhaps for Tyler to calm down? – they returned for a three-song encore.
After Tyler pointed skyward dedicating the song to his late father, a piano player, he began playing “Dream On” on a piano that was at the top of the inverted A stage. Perry soon climbed atop the piano for his solo. “Chip Away the Stone” followed. And you can’t see Aerosmith without hearing “Walk This Way.” Release the balloons, roadies. A gangway that descended allowed to Tyler and Perry to walk their way above the main floor and up to the balcony.
It was a very cool ending to a great night of music. While we passed on the T-shirts that started at $45, we had to buy something. A $10 shot glass seemed appropriate given the surroundings.
Aerosmith’s residency at the Park Theater at Park MGM resumes with eight concerts from Sept. 21 to Oct. 8, and nine more from Nov. 14 to Dec. 4.
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