Kiss may have coined the term Detroit Rock City, but Aerosmith is doing more than its part to fortify that spirit.
Tonight's concert will be the long-lived Boston rockers' ninth metro area show in the last five years -- including three each at the Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre (where Aerosmith played in October) and a stop, with Kiss, at Comerica Park. It makes them the most active rock 'n' roll visitors this side of, say, Eddie Money -- who doesn't draw nearly the same numbers to his couple of shows every year.
"Detroit has always been a good city for us," notes guitarist Brad Whitford. "It was one of our favorite places to go as soon as we started traveling way back in the '70s. We touched a nerve with the young fans in that area when we started touring that's always been there for us. It just seemed like a second home."
Fellow guitarist Joe Perry concurs that the Motor City has always been Aerosmith's "home away from home. Detroit took us to their hearts before our home town did. We would hear stories about how great J. Geils did there, so it was like the holy grail to get out there to Detroit."
And the quintet can rest assured that the feeling is mutual.
"Detroit rock audiences are very loyal to those bands that embrace this city the way they have," notes Doug Podell, program director and afternoon personality on WRIF-FM. "They have a comfort zone here that you just don't see anymore around the country. No matter how big they seem to get, they always remember and acknowledge their past and the friendships they've made here over the years."
Nevertheless, the Aerosmith members seem at bit overwhelmed at the continuing demand for the group to play, both here and around the world. "The offers keep coming in," Whitford, 54, says. "People keep saying, 'We want to book you here' and 'We want to pay you' and 'Do you want to play?,' and of course we always want to play."
And to be paid, Perry adds with a laugh. "I wasn't born rich -- and we spend money like water!" says the 56-year-old guitarist, who raises horses on a farm he owns in Vermont.
But he does note that after 36 years of recording and touring, Aerosmith "could just sit back any time at this point, if we wanted. But it's exciting to do this. We're at this place where we have something...Very few bands have gotten this far and are able to get out there and still try to top themselves.
"It's kind of a challenge for us. It's exciting, and it just keeps us going."
Aerosmith rolls into town this weekend at a particularly intriguing time in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band's career. The group released a new best-of collection, "Devil's Got a New Disguise," in October, which contains two new songs. The group has started work on its next studio album, which Perry predicts will be out in 2007. And it recently signed on with NASCAR, which will use Aerosmith's 1976 hit "Back in the Saddle" as part of its promotional campaign.
On the flip side, however, are some serious health concerns. Bassist Tom Hamilton has been sidelined while he recovers from treatments for throat cancer, while frontman Steven Tyler had throat surgery earlier this year after having to cancel a couple of concerts. The singer also repaired an injured heel and acknowledged a long-term battle with Hepatitis C.
Perry, meanwhile, suffered a concussion in November when he was hit in the head by a boom camera filming a concert in Las Vegas for the NASCAR deal.
The guitarist acknowledges feelings of "mortality" that surround the band these days. But that seems to charge Aerosmith to do more rather than less.
"We're really anxious to see how far we can take it,'' Perry explains. "It's always a toss-up between this and finding something else to do in life, 'cause this is so all-consuming. So you try to do a few things to test it and see what you still want to do in the end, and, frankly, this is where I want to be right now.
"Plus, I look around and there just aren't any other bands from my generation doing what we're doing. That's why it's so exciting."
And Whitford doesn't see the group's resolve changing in the near future.
"We're just used to working at this pace," he says. "It can wear you out a little bit, sometimes. There's a lot of down time, 'cause you only get to play for a couple hours each night. In=between there's not a lot to do; [i]that's[/i] the part that wears you down.
"But we really enjoy playing, and we're probably playing better than we've ever played. And the crowds are really enjoying it, so why not?"
Aerosmith, with Hinder opening, plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday (December 1st) at Joe Louis Arena, 600 Civic Center Drive, Detroit. Tickets are $79.50, $59.50 and $39.50. Call (313) 471-6606 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to