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Concert Reviews:
Aerosmith focuses on glory days at Palace concert
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUBURN HILLS -- Aerosmith has a new album coming out this fall, its first in eight years and first of all-new material in 11.

That's big news -- but it's a pretty good bet that the folks at the Palace on Thursday night, July 5, could have cared less.

Granted, "Legendary Child," the first single from the forthcoming "Music From Another Dimension!," has been well-received, and four-plus months until release is still a long time away in pop culture terms. But the Palace crowd knew exactly what it wanted from the Boston bad boys on Thursday, and Aerosmith delivered with a lavishly staged two-hour-plus show that hit all of its heritage high points and focused primarily on the 70s heyday that gave the quintet its wings in the rock pantheon.

Aerosmith is still, in many ways, coming back from the drama of 2009, when frontman and "American Idol" judge Steven Tyler landed back in rehab and his bandmates talked publicly about replacing him. So the mere sight of the band together on stage is enough to get fans excited anymore, and on Thursday the group appeared more tight-knit and cohesive than it did during a somewhat tense performance in 2010 at the Palace. Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry leaned into the same microphone as they started the 18-song show with "Draw the Line" at the foot of a ramp extending into the arena floor, and the body language and glances exchanged between all five members was noticeably warm and engaged throughout the night.

Tyler was clearly still suffering from whatever vocal/throat issues forced Aerosmith to postpone its concert two nights earlier in Virginia, but -- bolstered by a pair of female backup singers and an auxiliary keoyboardist who also sang -- he compensated with typically exuberant showmanship as he strode, shimmied and prowled the edges of the stage and mugged for the ubiquitous (and distracting) camera crew, putting on a show as flashy as anything being shown on the video screens behind and above the stage. Aerosmith's instrumentalists, meanwhile, were in fine fettle, with the guitar tandem of Perry and Brad Whitford locking in on long jams at the end of "Lord of the Thighs" and "No More No More" and drummer Joey Kramer propelling everything from deep in the pocket.

Aerosmith did showcase "Legendary Child" as well as the new album's riffy "Oh Yeah," which actually went over better with the crowd. The group also offered a few nods to its 80s and 90s "comeback" era -- including "Love in an Elevator," "Livin' on the Edge," "Jaded," "What It Takes" and "Falling in Love is Hard on the Knees" -- but it was particularly gratifying to hear the group dig into its catalog for less-celebrated fare such as "Last Child" and even lost gems like "S.O.S. (Too Bad)" and "Chip Away the Stone." The Perry-led "Combination" was undermined by a lengthy, momentum-stealing intro, but the big guns -- "Sweet Emotion," "Walk This Way" and "Dream On," with Tyler playing a white baby grand piano at the edge of the ramp -- remained bulletproof.

And Tiny Bradshaw's "Train Kept A-Rollin'," brought things to a fiery, confetti-filled finish that hopefully bodes well for a sustained period of peace for the group.

Adding to the "That 70's Show" flavor of the night was Cheap Trick, which opened with a thrashy, hour-long set also drawn from its most prolific decade -- hitting the high points of "Surrender," "I Want You To Want Me," "Dream Police" and Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" and also digging in for deep cuts such as "Clock Strikes Ten," "ELO Kiddies," "California Man," "Need Your Love" and "I Know What I Want." But don't consider the quartet a museum piece just yet; "Sick Man of Europe," from 2009's "The Latest," showed Cheap Trick, like its pals in Aerosmith, are still capable of adding some quality to the canon nearly 40 years down the line.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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