When the Bad Boys from Boston announced their Global Warming Tour a few months back, Aerosmith mouthpiece Steven Tyler bragged, “We will kick your ass and make out with your mothers.”
We can’t confirm that Tyler and his mates have consummated the mothers part of the deal, but judging from last night’s sold-out show at TD Garden, Aerosmith is fulfilling its butt-kicking promise big time. In their first hometown gig since 2010’s Fenway Park [map] thriller, Aerosmith rocked harder than we’ve seen them in years, in many ways recapturing the raw magic first displayed in numerous North Shore high school gyms and at K-K-K-Katy’s in the early ’70s. Last night’s wimp factor was low (no “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” thank God), and surprises were reason to rejoice (“Last Child,” “No More, No More”).
More than four decades into a career that has seen lots of lows and plenty of highs — both figuratively and literally — the band is flexing its considerable muscle again. His Judgeship Tyler walked away from his “American Idol” mistress last week to renew his vows to Joe Perry and the boys. No shilling for “Guitar Hero,” either, to slacken the pace this time around.
Cock-of-the-walk Tyler remains the band’s focal point. During opener “Draw the Line,” he strutted like a proud peacock, decked out in a floor-length silver lame coat, black sorcerer’s hat and silver moon boots—rock star personified, his puffy lips bulging like those hot dogs that plump up on the grill. He and guitar god/foil Perry stood side by side, sharing a microphone and spit, and seemed genuinely happy to be in a committed professional relationship again. But too often Tyler teetered perilously close to the edge of the stage, which, as we know, is fraught with danger.
When Tyler stripped down to just a skimpy black top and tight white leather trousers, female fans were sent into apoplexy.
For the most part, the two-hour show’s set list was stellar: “Love in an Elevator,” “Back in the Saddle,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” “Rag Doll,” “What it Takes,” and the closing one-two punch of “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way,” with a snippet of James Brown’s “Mother Popcorn” tossed in for good measure.
The encore was pure heaven. Tyler, straddling a white grand piano, magically rose from under the stage of the catwalk, tinkling out the opening chords of “Dream On,” their best song. Perry, like a man possessed, stood atop the piano and blazed away. Tyler nailed the high notes. “Train Kept a Rollin’” sent the crowd home happy.
The two new songs from “Music From Another Dimension,” due in November (fingers crossed), “Legendary Child” and “Oh Yeah,” were bluesy rockers that recalled the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers’ ’70s output more than their neutered ’80s product.
Perry remains one of rock’s great guitarists. He shredded magnificently all night, and his lap steel playing on “Rag Doll” was elegantly understated. He and Brad Whitford traded licks on “Cryin’” that brought the house down, aided in no small part by Tyler’s harmonica playing and his scarifying, howling vocals.
The underappreciated rhythm section of Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton anchored the band, keeping the chaos under control. Hamilton’s a monster bassist. Kramer’s overlong drum solo mid-set halted momentum a bit—even with sexy saxophonist Mindy Abair fueling the fire, but it was a hoot to watch the two bleach blondes try to outdo each other.
There were many young fans in attendance, drawn no doubt by Tyler’s participation on the ‘Idol’ juggernaut. They likely went home bigger fans by night’s end.