For the past decade and a half, Steven Tyler and his crew have been able to grab widespread musical appeal by cooking their albums hard enough to satisfy rock fans, but with enough soft tunes to make themselves tasty for radio and MTV time slots.
Aerosmith is back on tour this summer to promote their March release of Just Push Play, making a stop last Friday at the DTE Energy Music Theater.
The performance, sponsored by Dodge, was outfitted with three massive screens accompanied by roaming cameramen, arrays of manned spotlights and a three-foot tall metallic hand that sat on the front of the stage like a hood ornament, complete with finger nails that lit up between songs.
Aerosmith kicked off their sold-out show with the new album”s first track, “Beyond Beautiful.” The band followed with the Just Push Play title-track, with Tyler belting out indecipherable rhymes and Joe Perry”s showing off his signature, stair-climbing guitar sound. Throughout the night the group phased in and out between older hits like “Love in An Elevator” and newer ones like “Fly Away.”
Each section of DTE seemed separated by generation, with newer fans that bought $75 lawn tickets located toward the back, and older crowds populated closer to the stage. Guarded by a wall of sheriffs and security guards, Aerosmith walked through the aisles to the second stage in the middle of the show where they treated the younger audience to a few songs, including the classic rock anthem “Dream On” from Aerosmith”s 1973 debut album.
The band returned to the first stage where Tyler continued to hit dead-on vocals and Joey Kramer sent supporting drum beats behind songs like “Janie”s Got A Gun.” Aerosmith also performed some of its more emotional songs like the “Armageddon” soundtrack hit, “I Don”t Want To Miss A Thing,” and “Cryin”” from 1993″s Get a Grip.
Reminiscent of when the band teamed up with Run DMC in 1986 in a rap-rock redo of “Walk This Way,” Kid Rock made a surprise guest performance during “Sweet Emotion,” and at one point delighted the crowd when he and Tyler repeatedly rapped the word “Detroit.” Kid Rock stuck around to show off his vinyl scratching skills but his ability to steal the show soon faded, especially when Joe Perry later shattered his guitar, sending pieces of the wooden instrument flying into the audience.
Even though Aerosmith has received justified criticism in the past for abandoning their rock-and-roll roots, they are a remarkable live band. Squashing each decade block and generation barrier with surprising success, Aerosmith has accomplished the impossible: They survived to middle age, managed to consistently reign popular among youth and perform with reserves of energy and talent that make many younger bands today look like screaming, noisy children.