Friday, 31 July 2015 10:01

Aerosmith make long-awaited Van Andel return

Written by  Eric Mitts
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Aerosmith Aerosmith COURTESY PHOTO

w/ Living Colour
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids
Aug. 4, 8 p.m.

With this year marking Aerosmith’s 45th year together, the “Bad Boys from Boston” will bring this summer’s Blue Army Tour to a triumphant close with their Aug. 4 return to Grand Rapids.

“Grand Rapids is part of the section of the country where we first made it,” Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton told Revue, recalling West Michigan’s 1970s-era, denim-clad fans. “When we’re playing in a city like that we know we’re going to have a great time. We know it’s going to be a great audience, so we really look forward to it.”

Aerosmith last played Van Andel in 2005, shortly after the release of their covers set, Honkin’ on Bobo, and riding on the commercial success of the iconic band’s 2001 platinum-selling album Just Push Play.

Since its inception, the band has hit some colossal milestones: Becoming one of the best-selling American rock bands of all-time, winning four Grammy Awards and landing in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yet the band has refused to stick to a formula. The group continues to evolve, earning fresh generations of fans while remaining loyal to their history as an explosive, legendary live band.

“When someone shows up backstage or to a meet and greet with their 12-year-old son or daughter and says this is their first concert, it’s a great feeling,” Hamilton said, adding the band is at the top of its live game. “I feel proud of the fact that after all of these years we really know how to play these songs, so we’re probably going to go out there and rip this kid’s head off.”

The band’s drive to remain relevant went digital with the 2008 release of Guitar Hero Aerosmith, an unprecedented video game allowing fans, young and old, the opportunity to virtually play along with the band.

In 2010 they fended off break-up rumors when front man Steven Tyler stepped into a different spotlight as a judge on American Idol, turning new faces onto the band’s music once again.

Sure, it’s been a long road. Injuries, illness, and occasional feuds aside, the band has always come back, overcoming every obstacle together – including Hamilton’s personal battle with cancer that sidelined him from tours in 2006 and 2011.

“I think with all the repetition in doing this with these particular people there’s just something that’s been burned in really deep,” Hamiltion said about playing with the band’s original lineup for over 40 years.

“We still mess up here and there, but generally we can take almost any song that we’ve ever played and do a really good version of it.”

Hamilton said the band plans to dig in with this tour and add deep album cuts like “Hangman Jury” and “Adam’s Apple” to their sets already filled with hits like “Livin’ On The Edge,” “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion.”

“It feels amazing, especially being almost anywhere in the world and playing those bass notes and people recognize it,” Hamilton said of “Sweet Emotion” which he co-wrote with Tyler in 1975.

“A lot of [our music] came out in a different world really, not just a different era,” he added about playing the band’s older material for new audiences. “When we play Moscow or St. Petersburg, it would have been against the law when we first started out and now here we are playing those places.”

Currently without a record label, following the release of their last LP, Music From Another Dimension, Aerosmith still plans to continue to move forward with new music.

“We might have to wait another six months to a year before everybody in the band can really get into the idea,” Hamilton explained. “We really worked hard on the From Another Dimension album and we kind of overdid it. We put too many songs on it. But it was 10 years [in the making] and everyone had something they wanted to express before this whole thing comes to an end. So we did it, and I think we made a really good guitar album, but I think we also learned what was working and what wasn’t working, so I’m anxious to go in and follow through on that. I’d love to go in and make a nice, tight, concise album, or maybe even an EP.”

Tyler also just released a country-focused solo album as the rest of the band regroups from the current tour. But, like the past four decades, Hamilton said he already feels some new tunes brewing.

“There’s plenty of creativity left. There are plenty of ideas we’d like to finish,” he said. “The time will come where the idea for another Aerosmith album will present itself.”

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