City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Aerosmith, Cheap Trick smoke Philips Arena

Steven Tyler, shown this month in Quebec, is a bonafide rock star. Photo: Canadian Press Image via AP Images

Steven Tyler, shown this month in Quebec, is a bonafide rock star. Photo: Canadian Press Image via AP Images

We can agree that Steven Tyler was a pleasantly sweet – if mostly ineffective – judge on “American Idol” the past two years.

 But we also know where he really belongs, and it isn’t on a TV talent show.

 No, Tyler is a rip-roaring, butt-shaking, sexy-skanky, wake-the-dead-yowling, rock star supreme.

 And what a pleasure to have him back on stage.

 At Aerosmith’s packed Philips Arena concert on Thursday – the band’s first show here since a 2009 gig at Lakewood Amphitheatre – the quintet displayed its limberness, both musically and physically, with a set that proved that they simply don’t make rock stars the way they used to.

 Taking the stage to “Draw the Line,” with Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry arriving at the end of a catwalk while drummer Joey Kramer, bassist Tom Hamilton and guitarist Brad Whitford held down the groove behind them, Aerosmith began their two-hour sonic assault.

 Though Tyler initially resembled Aunt Ethyl at Easter with his big, floppy hat, he  and Perry still looked rock star cool in their sparkly coats and scarves, which eventually were stripped away to uncover lean, tattooed arms.

 Anyone who has ever experienced an Aerosmith show knows, for the most part, what to expect.

 Tyler can be counted on to jokingly pull the camera man’s lens from his face to his crotch, as he did during “Jaded,” and skitter around the stage with his scarf-adorned mic stand, as he did with nearly every song.

 Perry will almost certainly rip out a solo or two to leave you slack-jawed, as he produced during the lengthy jam that ended “Rats in the Cellar.”

 And Kramer, Hamilton and Whitford will be given their turns in the spotlight, which they received several times during the night, solidifying the fact that no matter what happens behind the scenes with these guys, they know how to pull the brotherhood together for the sake of fans.

 Over the years, Tyler’s voice has soared and skidded, depending on the length of the tour and his extracurricular activities.

 At Thursday’s show, he sounded perfectly Tyler. He nailed the screeches on “Livin’ on the Edge” and sang the first verse of “What it Takes” a capella, demonstrating to the younger recruits in the crowd what a real singer – free of processing and full of charisma – sounds like.

 At 64, Tyler is also a defiant performer, spinning around on one foot, bopping over to sling an arm around Perry, gleefully smacking fans’ hands and always looking like an eager puppy who needed someone to play with him.

 Though Aerosmith paid plenty of attention to its deep catalog (it sounded as if Tyler made mention of playing the Electric Ballroom before tearing into 1974’s “SOS (Too Bad)”but his chatter was often difficult to decipher), the quintet – backed by two female singers, a keyboardist and occasional percussionist – gave fans a sample of the new “Music from Another Dimension!,” coming in November.

 Perry churned out some chunky guitar on “Oh Yeah,” a song better than its simple title that combines Aerosmith’s polished rock with elements of ‘60s pop. The first single from the album, “Legendary Child,” is a formulaic rocker that shares a cadence with “Walk This Way,” but it’s still enjoyable radio fodder.

 Hamilton strode the catwalk to usher in “Sweet Emotion” with his nuanced bass lines, but a few seconds later, Mr. Adrenaline swiped the spotlight back, bouncing up and down as if he hasn’t sung that song 76 million time in his career.

 The band segued seamlessly into a loose, playful version of “Walk This Way,” which featured Tyler’s slide-march move with his mic stand and Perry ripping out notes while playing behind his head.

 Though it would have been cool to see more lighters rather than cell phones aloft as the crowd waited for Aerosmith to return for an encore, it hardly mattered by the time Tyler rose from the back of the catwalk to play “Dream On” on a white piano, while Perry strode atop it.

In tours past, fans held their breath when it came time for Tyler’s huge notes as the song climaxed, wondering if he could still hit those ridiculous highs. No surprise that on Thursday, the escalating “Dream on”’s sounded as gut-wrenching as they did in 1973.

 Speaking of vocals, Robin Zander of openers Cheap Trick was also having a terrific night.

 The classic rock vets charmed the Philips crowd with an hour-long set designed for maximum volume and often focused on a deeper layer of the band’s career.

 While there were plenty of hits from the Illinois power-pop-rock quartet – Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson and drummer Daxx Nielsen (Rick’s son, filling in live for Bun E. Carlos who suffers from back issues) – the guys often landed on serrated album cuts such as “Baby Loves to Rock,” “Need Your Love” and the driving “Sick Man of Europe,” from the band’s last studio album, 2009’s “The Latest.”

 Aerosmith’s Whitford popped out to jam with Nielsen on “Ain’t That a Shame” – which also produced a nifty drum intro from Daxx Nielsen – and later, Petersson generated an impressive solo on the 12-string bass he designed.

 Zander, wearing his “Dream Police”-era dress whites and hat, sounded strong all set, his distinctively nasal rasp tackling the still-glorious chorus of “Surrender” and his upper range flawless during “The Flame.”

 Though the band has mixed hits “She’s Tight” and “Tonight It’s You” into other sets during this tour, on Thursday, fans had to be satisfied with shouting along to the iconic opening of “I Want You to Want Me” and enjoying the tense paranoia that still races through “Dream Police.”

 As Nielsen crowed during the show, “Cheap Trick…accept no substitutes!”  As if we could ever.

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By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene

39 comments Add your comment

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July 27th, 2012
6:39 am

Big fan of both bands. Well written article. Made me sorry I missed it, I spent all my money on Kiss and Motley Crue (which was good too). So glad to see the real thing still doing it instead of all the lip sync-ing of todays perfromers or the ones that really just can’t play their instruments.
Keep up the good work Boys!!!


July 27th, 2012
6:45 am

Surely when referencing performers who play instruments well you are not referring to KISS.


July 27th, 2012
7:41 am

Good review, Melissa! You know your stuff! Glad to see Aerosmith played plenty of oldies, since everything they’ve put out since 1987 is terrible. Cheap Trick to me is far more relevant as far as classic rock outfits go


July 27th, 2012
7:47 am

So awesome that both of these bands are still kicking it. I have vivid memories of both from the 70s. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Oh well. Good write up!

Van Jones

July 27th, 2012
7:54 am

Aerosmith – meh.

Cheap Trick – always awesome with incredible musicianship!


July 27th, 2012
7:58 am

While aerosmith has some great songs, their stage presence does not get any cheesier….


July 27th, 2012
8:00 am

Being originally from Boston, I am a big fan of Aerosmith since the mid-70’s when they played all the local Boston arenas. Loved them then and love them now! They haven’t missed a beat!


July 27th, 2012
8:14 am

Unbeleivable concert with Cheap Trick and Aerosmith delivering beyond expectations! Crisp – clean and pure Rock n Roll! We’ll remember this as part of our 27th wedding anniversary celebration!


July 27th, 2012
8:24 am

I thought he referred to it as Alex Cooley’s Agora Ballroom, which the Electric Ballroom was renamed as sometime during its run. I remember seeing Aerosmith at Champagne Jam @ Grant Field with ARS, Cars and Mother’s Finest. They had sound and drug issues back then. Luckily this show made up for it. Atlanta was only the third city to get 3 songs for the encore, and we got teased with a little bit of Woman of the World. While Brad Whitford is not as flashy as Joe Perry, the guy is just as good! He was pulling out some great licks during Last Child! Both guitar players seemed to be on their game! I need to find out why Tom Hamilton had two iPhones attached to his bass during Sweet Emotion. I bet it is some comment on the iPhones in the crowd,


July 27th, 2012
8:26 am

Not a huge Aerosmith fan as I only recognized 3-4 songs but it was truly a rock concert for 2 hours. Awkward ending as they introduced the band after the first encore then left the stage expecting the crowd to get revved up again for a second encore. They didn’t and the lights came on robbing the crowd of one last song. Too bad.

Like the way Kenny Rogers does it. He says, “I normally go behind the curtain for 45 seconds after that last song and expect you to cheer me back on the stage. I don’t have that ego anymore so here are the 3 additional songs you came to hear.” Brilliant. Aerosmith should learn from that so as not to send (some) fans home disappointed which translates to outdoor venues for them the next time.

Overall, a good rock concert, worth the money..just no need to get ego-centric at the end.

Bob from Accounttemps

July 27th, 2012
8:37 am

He looks like a Grandma. He’s still got it, though. Can’t believe Jagger is 69!


July 27th, 2012
8:40 am

@JT – They usually do a 2 song encore. Tyler was ready to leave after 2 and Perry got us the 3rd song, which has only happened 3 times this tour. That is why the end of the encore seemed awkward. They were never going to do anymore after that. When the PA music comes on, the show is over. It came on right after they left the stage after “Chip Away at the Stone”- the 3rd encore song.


July 27th, 2012
8:58 am

Concert was awesome! Steven Tyler is awesome and it was one of the best concerts. There is no other that can put on a show like Steven Tyler. People who are saying there was no encore must of had too much to drink. The encore was when he came back from under the stage playing the piano and played more songs. They were great. Steven did not look like he is 64 he was running all over stage putting on a great performance.


July 27th, 2012
9:27 am

Fantastic show; especially the older stuff from “Rocks” and “Get Your Wings.” Don’t remember hearing “No More No More,” however.


July 27th, 2012
9:41 am

Since you’re not an Aerosmith fan you shouldn’t really know this but you actually heard a 3 song in the encore that most cities have not gotten on this tour. Also, the reason the band keeps the light down for a few seconds after they leave the stage is to allow them to quickly get to their vehicles and leave the venue before traffic hits. When you fill an arena traffic issues are a nightmare. This is a trick done by thousands of bands big AND small.


July 27th, 2012
9:43 am

No More No More wasn’t played. I think she’s confused it with SOS Too Bad. This is the set:

Draw The Line
Love In An Elevator
Same Old Song And Dance
Livin’ On The Edge
Oh Yeah
Last Child
—Drum Solo—
Rag Doll
Peter Gunn/Boogie Man
What It Takes
Rats In The Cellar
Legendary Child
SOS (Too Bad)
Sweet Emotion
Walk This Way
Dream On
Train Kept A Rollin’
Chip Away The Stone

By true Aerosmith fans this is an epic set.


July 27th, 2012
9:54 am

Cheap trick is not from Chicago they are from Rockford…….huge difference of about a 90 miles!


July 27th, 2012
9:55 am

Eh this was written at 2AM, cut the lady some slack :)


July 27th, 2012
10:04 am

I think they put on a great show but the sound was awful. Don’t know if it was just Philips or their sound people but it sounded muffled and distorted all night. All I got out of the “Alex Cooley” reference was just that,,,,,,,,Alex Cooley……that’s how bad it was…..


July 27th, 2012
10:06 am

Oh, and I was floored at how good Zander sounded. He still has every bit of that voice !!


July 27th, 2012
10:06 am

Where were you sitting, from the 7th row it sounded fine.

circle R

July 27th, 2012
10:22 am

My neighbor had backstage passes (he has a friend who knows Brad Whitford), and just to rub it in he texted me a photo of Perry jamming like ten feet away from him onstage during the show! So wrong! Wish I could have been there, they always put on a great show.


July 27th, 2012
10:35 am

There aren’t even words great enough to describe how truly amazing the concert was last night! I wasn’t ready for it to end. They are a true example of rock and roll!

Melissa Ruggieri

July 27th, 2012
10:35 am

Hey guys – yep, meant “SOS (Too Bad)” instead of “No More No More.” It’s been changed. The 2 a.m. thing was definitely a factor – sort of like when I meant to type “Illinois” but instead typed “Chicago” in reference to Cheap Trick!- but appreciate the correction(s)!


July 27th, 2012
10:54 am

No problem Melissa! I knew what you were trying to say! :) I was tired after falling asleep at 12 and getting up a 5… I can’t imagine trying to collect your thoughts at 2AM. By the way my ears were still ringing a bit at 7AM this morning…just the side affect of a great show!


July 27th, 2012
10:58 am

Reading the reviews Atlanta. I live in Dallas ang going Saturday night. Surprised they didn,t open with Toys in the Attic – seen on several set lists for other cities. Hopefully they do 4 encores since they love Dallas. Thanks for the teasers!


July 27th, 2012
11:04 am

They’ve only opened with Draw the Line this tour. You’d be lucky to get 4 songs in an encore, Chip Away wasn’t on the printed set and it was only because Joe and Brad pushed Steven that they did the song.. they almost played Woman of the World but cut it short after a few lines. I think the key to getting that 3rd song is having the crowd up front begging the band for one more. We did our part and it worked for ATL.


July 27th, 2012
11:16 am

Thanks Aero. Just kidding on 4 songs – never happen. Hopefully Dallas can make enough noise to get 3 like Atlanta. Sounds like it’s going to be an awesome show. Last time I saw them here they were with Motley Crue (who sucked) and it was an outdoor show in November and was like 15 degrees with 30 mph winds. Should be nice and comfy tomorrow night inside American Airlines Center. Thank you ATL!


July 27th, 2012
12:02 pm

Got a last-minute invite and went! Not a major fan like others here, but I loved the energy of the band and loved how the fans got into it! Like someone else above, I knew 3 or 4 of their classics but liked a lot of other stuff, especially in the middle. But I also have a question about the sound. Of course it was super-loud, but did it seem over-modulated? I had a hard time making out some lyrics and most of what Tyler was saying, when he did speak. And my friend (the big fan) who I was with was also bummed at the way the concert ended. I’ll make sure they see this blog to understand why!


July 27th, 2012
5:30 pm

i went to the concert in Philly it was excellent,,I’m in love that’s all I tell people when they ask how was the concert. Wish I went to the meet and greet,but could t afford it. I would like to jump off his dock at his NH home with him lol anyone know how I can contact him?

dumb ass

July 27th, 2012
5:56 pm

I thought Gary Rossington was from FLA?

Randy Robertson

July 27th, 2012
6:01 pm

Been a fan since the70s. Never had a chance to see a show,but I was there at the ATL show. I dont know how it could get any better. It was the very best concert I have ever seen,Great music, lots of energy,sounds were clear and the lighting was just right. Waited a long time for this and it was worth it. If I ever get another chance I’ll go again.Thanks guys, you were on my bucket list. Fan Forever


July 27th, 2012
7:37 pm

Hey Atlanta, Question: I’m going to see them in Dallas tomorrow (Sat – 7/28). Did Cheap Trick start on time (I think it was 7:30pm there)? Also, did they enforce a “no camera” rule? Thank you.


July 27th, 2012
7:43 pm

Had an awesome time and was relieved that no one fell off of the stage or piano! Drove over from Starkville, MS. Have wanted to see them since the 70’s! Took my 22 yr. old daughter and neither of us was not disappointed. GREAT concert!!!


July 27th, 2012
9:51 pm

Scott.. yes, Cheap Trick started at exactly 7:30 in Atlanta and they ended at exactly 8:30. They enforced the no professional camera rule. You can bring a normal digital camera.


July 27th, 2012
10:10 pm

4th aerosmith concert….and best!! …or maybe i don’t remember the first 3 in detroit, mich in 70’s when stevie and i were a lot younger!!

Toys in the attic

July 28th, 2012
12:25 am

At the big rock show last night and was not disappointed by these two authentic powerhouse groups! Sound and aesthetics were great from where I was sitting (first time in Phillips). Saw them twice in the Omni and this show was mo’ better than both of those. Crowd response to Cheap Trick was subdued and obviously underwhelmed the band, but they are pros and still put on a great act. No prima donnas there… All of the guys in Aerosmith still got it and it showed. One caveat… the blue army is now the blue-haired army and they throw granny panties on the stage!!!!

Tracey Freiler

July 28th, 2012
8:16 pm

I went to the Atlanta show Thursday night with my daughter and son-in-law and it was a great concert! I saw Aerosmith in the 70’s at what was the Philadelphia Spectrum at the time. I turned my daughter on to their music and she loves them as much as me . This was my mother’s day gift….a ticket to see my favorite band one more time before they stop touring and I get too old!!! The concert was amazing, both bands sounded great, the sound from the floor seats we had was excellent. I can cross this off my bucket list….but hope to maybe see them one more time! Steven Tyler sounded great and seemed like he was really enjoying himself…Joey Kramer did an amazing drum solo and the crowd went wild when he began drumming with his hands and head….they all were great…loved it.