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Aerosmith and Cheap Trick live!

| June 25, 2012

Everyone knows what to expect when you go to see a band in concert who’s been together for over 40 years, and whose frontman is in his mid-60s (64 to be exact): the band will move around the stage much less than in their younger, wilder days, the set list will be shorter (because stamina disappears with age), and the lead singer will of course pull back on all the high notes because he can’t hit them anymore.
Steven Tyler has never been one for living within people’s expectations. When legendary rockers Aerosmith invaded the United Center on Friday night, they not only played a memorable two-hour show, they helped redefine the expectation for “aging rockers.” Not that 40 years hasn’t had some effect on the band — there are a few more wrinkles on band members’ faces (those who opted out of plastic surgery anyway), more gray in their hair, and nobody leaping off of scaffolding. But when Tyler emerged from stage catwalk mid-crowd, donning his huge white hat and blinged-out white jacket, with guitar god Joe Perry at his side playing the riff to the opening “Draw The Line,” it was clear that these Boston rockers still had some youth left in them.

While the band rocked through an impressive career-spanning setlist, playing through hits of the last four decades and highlighting multiple tracks off their forthcoming release Music From Another Dimension, Tyler staked his claim as the consummate showman and wiley stage veteran. While his antics continue to be over-the-top — sticking his face into every video camera he could find (providing the live shots for the giant stage screen), strutting all over the catwalk and stage carrying his scarf-draped microphone, wearing whatever the crowd threw at him (from pink boa to cowboy hat) — his charisma is undeniable. Whether you like his antics, it’s hard not to watch him. And his years of stage experience showed through in subtle ways, like being careful to hide behind a guitarist pretending to rock out while giving the sound techs instructions on adjusting the mix.
Tyler and company made all the right choices to please the crowd, interspersing the big hits (“Love In An Elevator,” “Livin On The Edge,” “Rag Doll,” “What It Takes,” etc.) between the new stuff, letting each band member show off their solos, and even showing the classic Alicia Silverstone video behind the ballad “Cryin’.” The closers were wisely predictable (“Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way”), and the first song of the encore was a highlight of the night: Tyler emerged once again from the stage catwalk, this time sitting at a white grand piano enveloped in smoke, playing and singing “Dream On.” Perry later stood on the piano to crank out the classic bridge riff, and at the end Tyler answered the burning question “will he still go for the legendary high note?” with a resounding “yes.”
The only questionable move of the night came with the final song — the unexpected “Train Kept A-Rollin’” off their 1974 sophomore effort Get Your Wings. When the song finished, the crowd only mildly cheered, as though expecting the real closer to come next. But the confetti rained down and Tyler bid the crowd “good night” as he walked off stage (without stopping to stand with the band — a sign of recent rumored troubles?). And the crowd was so surprisingly quiet at the end of this long show from this legendary band, that it even prompted Tyler to blurt out “Don’t get quiet on me now!” as he exited.
Rockford rockers Cheap Trick opened the show with an hour-long set from their 30-year career, which showed the band can still play, but also proved that age has slowed them down far more than it did Aerosmith. Frontman Robin Zander stayed put as he belted out the band’s hits donning his “Dream Police” outfit. The rest of the band didn’t move around much either, though they seemed to still be having fun playing live music together. They of course saved their four biggest hits for last (“Surrender,” “The Flame,” “I Want You To Want Me,” and “Dream Police”), leaving the crowd satisified.   
–Carter Moss

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Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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