Better Than: Any American Idol performance. Ever.
Over the past few years, Aerosmith has been the focus of some rather mixed media attention, generally fueled by lead singer Steven Tyler's assorted (and very public) antics which have, at times, nearly spelled the death of the band. However, it is the same refusal to age with too
much grace (when coupled with one of the most distinct voices in rock 'n' roll) that makes Tyler one of best frontmen to ever walk the stage.
- Photos: Aerosmith and Cheap Trick at BB&T Center
Having released their first album of original music in over a decade, the legendary band from Boston is back to brass tacks, and last night's performance demonstrated that the band is far removed from the drama that has plagued its recent years. The group is back to doing what they do best: Providing an arena with a night of blistering rock 'n' roll ecstasy, while making sure your mom is completely hot and bothered.
Opening for Aerosmith was a legendary band in its own right, Cheap Trick. Lead singer Robin Zander appeared on stage decked-out in a rhinestone encrusted marching band jacket and leather police hat -- standard issue for the dream police. Drummer Bun E Carlos was absent, replaced by guitarist Rick Neilsen's son, Daxx, but the rest of the classic lineup was present and ready for action.
Cheap Trick romped through a feast of riffs and favorites for the early crowd. Local yocal, Vince Neil, took some time from his busy schedule hawking Mötley Crüe merchandise and alcohol to hop on stage and sing "He's a Whore" with the band. Neil didn't really know the song all that well, and the moment felt out of place at best. The sour taste left by the cameo was thoroughly washed away by the latter portion of the group's set, which featured a rocked-up Beatles medley in acknowledgement of the anniversary of John Lennon's death on December 8, 1980, and the group's 3 mega-hits in sequence. The no frills formula still worked like a charm, and the set ended with Aerosmith's Brad Whitford sitting in on "Surrender" while Neilsen Sr. played his iconic Hamer 5 necked guitar.
As Aerosmith's introduction clip rolled over the speakers of the darkened arena, the anticipation was palpable in the audience. The band ripped into "Toy's in the Attic" with a rumbling assault that immediately shook the marring dirt of recent in-fighting from the minds of all in attendance.
Joe Perry and Steven Tyler were found a the end of a catwalk that led to the middle of the arena, sharing a scarve-riddled mic stand while the rest of the band grooved away on the main stage.
Tyler's voice was intact and on-point for the first portion of the set; all of the highs were hit, all of the signature screams, and birdcalls, and even his unfortunate scatting, were handled with ease. Joe Perry looked like a guitar wielding mystic in a large brimmed black hat and an ever-changing outfit of pirate's clothing. Perry is still one of the absolute coolest rock stars ever, and he spent the majority of the night channeling the very essence of rock music through his fingers and into every single swaggering riff and solo he played.
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