The lights at the cavernous MGM Grand Garden Arena, dark only seconds prior, illuminated a single figure onstage Saturday night. Crouched over a mic stand dressed in a top hat, floor-length sequin wrap, silver-studded black pants and fuchsia ruffled shirt, the center of attention was Steven Tyler, the flamboyant frontman of Aerosmith.
It was one of the few times the 67-year-old rocker stood still during the band’s “Blue Army Tour” stop in Las Vegas. Tyler and Aerosmith kicked off the night with a cover of Tiny Bradshaw’s “Train Kept a Rollin’,” and “America’s Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band” kept the train on track for most of the next two hours.
Throughout the night, Tyler remained front and center, helping his bandmates — guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, drummer Joey Kramer, bass guitarist Tom Hamilton, along with Bob Johnson on keyboard — deliver song after rollicking song to an adoring sold-out crowd that alternatingly danced, sang, screamed and shot photos and videos.
In all, the band rocked out a 16-song package along with an extended and requisite drum solo that showed off Kramer’s talents. Among the many hits performed were “Love in an Elevator,” “Cryin’,” “Jaded,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” “Rag Doll” and “Walk This Way.”
During each, Tyler preened, posed, sang and strutted about the inverted T-shaped stage in a way that would have made a young Mick Jagger jealous. At one point during “Livin’ on the Edge” as he was being bird-dogged by an ever-present cameraman whose video was being broadcast on giant screens hanging from the arena’s ceiling, Tyler was playing to the crowd stage right.
“Move ’cause this is my good side,” he commanded mid-song to the obliging cameraman.
Tyler’s mic stand was an instrument of its own, alternately being used as an oversized drum major’s baton, staff to prod other band members across the stage, billboard (the bottom of it had the message “Lick Me!” written on it), dance partner to the always-shuffling Tyler, and even its intended use.
Tyler and Perry, the two most recognizable members of the iconic Boston band formed in the 1970s, moved about and sang during the evening in ways that would have placed them in their 20s rather than as sexagenarians who have been plying their craft for more than four decades.
Indeed, at a time when many aging rockers no longer can hit highs that they could in their earlier years, Tyler was crisp, clear and decisive — no more so than in delivering the money shot in Aerosmith’s first mega-hit, “Dream On.”
But as much as the night was about the music, it was about the show. And that is where Tyler — and Perry, to a lesser extent — shined. The two would join at Tyler’s mic stand, singing at the top of their voices closer than the most intimate of couples. During “Come Together,” Tyler pulled Perry even closer to him as they sang the line, “Hold you in his armchair, you can feel his disease.”
Supermodels don’t have as much electric fan-generated gusts directed toward them during a swimsuit shoot as was aimed at Tyler and Perry during the concert. And paying fans — women and men — howled in admiration whenever the two struck a pose with the air blowing, their long hair and ruffled clothes flowing and sweat dripping from their brows.
During “Dream On,” one of the encore numbers, the two literally towered over the audience. As Tyler played piano at the front of the stage and sang, Perry climbed on top of the all-white baby grand to add his guitar to the ballad. Not to be outdone, Tyler ascended to the piano’s top to sing a verse after Perry’s descent.
Two hours and a two-song encore after the concert started, Aerosmith was done. After introducing the band members — and in one of the few times of the night when his narration didn’t include expletives — Tyler left with his often-quoted message from the song “Amazing”: “The light at the end of the tunnel may be you!”
Aerosmith’s 17-stop “Blue Army Tour” of North America, with Living Colour as the opening act, next heads to Grand Rapids, Mich., for a show Tuesday before concluding Friday in Canton, Ohio, as part of the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival.
Saturday night’s setlist at MGM Grand Garden Arena: “Train Kept a Rollin’,” “Love in an Elevator,” “Cryin’,” “Jaded,” “Last Child,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” “Toys in the Attic,” “Rag Doll,” “Stop Messin’ Around,” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “One Way Street,” “Come Together,” “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” and “Walk This Way.” Encore: “Dream On” and “Sweet Emotion.”
John Taylor is the copy desk chef at the Las Vegas Sun.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.