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Concert Reviews:
There's No Place Like Detroit For Aerosmith
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT -- Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler's T-shirt said it all on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.

A script declaring "Never Die" ran the width of the chest, while the back bore the legend "Triumph in the Face of Adversity." That's an apt description of Aerosmith's 2006, one in which the band endured surgery on Tyler's throat and heel, sidelined bassist Tom Hamilton's battle with throat cancer and even guitarist Joe Perry's head-first concussion encounter with a boom camera at a recent taping for a NASCAR promotion in Las Vegas.

Amidst all this, however, Aerosmith has delivered some of its finest shows to date -- including an October show at the DTE Energy Music Theatre and Friday's stop in downtown Detroit, Aerosmith's third visit to the metro area in the past year. Exuberant in spirit, the 16-song, nearly two-hour show was as hot as the weather was cold outside, showing the 10,000 or so fans that being down, rather than putting Aerosmith out, only seems to make the Boston quintet more fierce.

Following a solid hour-long set by Oklahoma City upstarts Hinder -- whose hit "Lips of an Angel" was clearly known by the Joe Louis crowd -- Aerosmith emerged from behind a white curtain, playing a tight 'n' fast rendition of "Toys in the Attic." Promoting a new best-of collection, "Devil's Got a New Disguise," the show was appropriately bolstered by hits -- "Love in an Elevator," "Cryin'," "What it Takes" and the anthems "Dream On," "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk This Way" -- although "Livin' on the Edge" was a bit of a speed bump and Friday's arrangement of "Sweet Emotion" got a bit messy.

But the real treats were the rarities and covers that dotted the set. The group had a playful time with Rufus Thomas' "Walkin' the Dog" and dug into the blues of Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go" and the '60s Fleetwood Mac song "Stop Messin' Around," the latter sung by Perry and both featuring Tayler's harmonica playing. The trippy "Seasons of Wither," with lasers cutting through soap sud snowflakes falling from the ceiling, has become something of an Aerosmith concert staple in recent years, but "One Way Street," from the group's 1973 debut album, was a welcome surprise, especially with the long, lusty group jam that closed the song.

Performance is the real key to Aerosmith's continuing appeal, however. This is a group that in recent years has never appeared to be phoning it in, and even in their mid-'50s the band is playing with the same -- if not more -- enthusiasm as its younger opening acts, whether its Tyler's dervish moves around the ramps that jut out from both sides and the front of the stage or Perry's slashing guitar heroics -- or, for that matter, the obvious enjoyment they get from performing with each other, a chemistry their models, Rolling Stones Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, stopped demonstrating long ago. Drummer Joey Kramer and guitarist Brad Whitford, meanwhile, are more understated but just as central to the show.

Perry has referred to Detroit as Aerosmith's "home away from home," and he told the Joe Louis crowd that "we can't get enough of Detroit." The feeling was certainly mutual on Friday -- and will no doubt remain that way when Aerosmith returns for another concert or two in 2007.



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