Back in late 2009, the future of Aerosmith was uncertain. The band’s iconic vocalist Steven Tyler and guitar-legend Joe Perry were at each other’s throats – Tyler even left the band momentarily. Let’s face it, after 45 years of non-stop rock ‘n’roll debauchery, touring and recording a band will get understandably jaded.
Well, if the members are still annoyed with each other it’s sure hard to tell. Last night at Van Andel Arena the Boston-bred group delivered a smile-filled, deluxe Aerosmith stage show. The band, now all nearing the mid-sixties age range, is no doubt responsible for a bulk of the “Rock Star 101” stage antics and they haven’t lost any of that influential flare.
The band opened with a raucous version of 1977’s “Draw the Line,” an odd choice considering their stockpile of bigger hits. But it got the job done – it let the almost sold-out crowd know they were in for a night of blues-fueled rock anthems. For the casual fans that didn’t recognize the opener, they surely sung along to 1989’s “Love in an Elevator” and the parade of hits that followed. The set list spanned Aerosmith’s long career, including “Pink,” “Cryin'," "Dude Looks Like a Lady,” “Last Child,” “Toys in the Attic” and “Ragdoll,” to name a few.
While the agile Tyler spent a bulk of the night strutting down the cat walk, whirling his mic stand and humping the air, he also paused to give a shout out to the locals. “All right! What the f***, Michigan,” Tyler shouted. “You broke us in ’71 and we’ll be indebted to you forever.”
Later in the set, Perry tipped his hat to GR. “It’s great to be back in Grand Rapids,” said the 64-year old guitar slinger. “This was one of the first cities we played outside of Boston that really got us.” Moments later Perry took the lead on a cover of “Stop Messin’ Around” – a tune from the band’s 2004 LP, Honkin' on Bobo.
The encores, “Dream On” and “Sweet Emotion” left the arena with a reminder of why the band is still packing big houses like Van Andel. These guys still understand the art of big hooks, striking guitar riffs and a larger-than life stage show. And they know how to combine that with raw blues and loose rock‘n’roll – a recipe most young, current bands have abandoned. If you want to see/hear the real deal, sometimes you have to refer back to the originals.