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Aerosmith Draw the Line in Los Angeles With Guests Johnny Depp & Izzy Stradlin (CONCERT REVIEW)

Charles Epting

Aerosmith returned to Los Angeles last night (Dec. 3), hitting the Staples Center in support of their new album, Music From Another Dimension! Simply put, the boys from Boston gave a clinic in classic rock muscle, delivering a masterful, soulful, arena-worthy spectacle that time traveled through every phase of the band’s storied and checkered career.

Openers Cheap Trick delivered a punchy, reliable set culminating in the band’s biggest hits, “Dream Police” and “Surrender.” (Front man Robin Zander was decked out in shimmering Dream Police regalia). Then as the place filled in and got settled, just about the stroke of 9 p.m. the lights went down, the wild, freewheeling strains of “Toys in the Attic” kicked in and Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, from plumes of thick white smoke, emerged from an elevator at the tip of the runway that jutted out about third of the way onto the arena floor (while the rest of the band pounded away from the main stage).

From there it was a wild ride on a swirling, sonic roller coaster. For the next two hours Tyler, dressed in all white with a matching white top hat, sang, danced and cajoled like a man possessed. Eventually stripping down to a leathery tank top, the serpentine strutter bopped and boogied, sashaying along the runway like a stripper. He seems to be in supernatural shape, both vocally and physically, tirelessly stomping and pirouetting about the stage, wing-to-wing, often times front and center, where he teased and toyed with those pushed up front. A whirling, dervish even at 64, the lithe, age-defying frontman was theatrical, wily and as outrageous as ever. He twirled his scarf-festooned mic stand and wailed on harmonica. He wrapped his octopus-like arms around all of the band members at various times, joined Joey Kramer during the drum solo (remember, Tyler was the drummer way back when) and even playfully licked Joe Perry’s cheek at one point while they shared the microphone. For all of the injuries and addictions, Tyler has emerged as a nearly heroic figure on stage, a Phoenix-like rock and roll superstar finding a new and soaring groove that’s still boyish and charismatic, but with more purpose, command and direction. Steven, you’re the one that’s jaded us.

Charles Epting

As for Perry, his dark, brooding, lone gunslinger persona was on full display, and his playing was razor sharp. Hunkering down in his sinewy, rattlesnake coil, Perry ripped riff after bluesy riff through a seemingly endless array of classics, from “Last Child,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” “Rag Doll,” “Walk This Way,” and a new song, “Lover Alot” which in particular received a very strong reaction (as it should – the new album is spiked with pleasant surprises like this). There were also some deep cuts carved from the sizeable Aerosmith canon, including “Movin’ Out,” from the band’s debut album and “No More No More” from Toys in the Attic.

And as always, bassist Tom Hamilton, guitarist Brad Whitford and drummer Joey Kramer provided all the brick and mortar support that the former Toxic Twins needed. As compelling as team Tyler/Perry is, there is no doubt that Aerosmith would not be possible without these guys, who add a rock solid framework to the otherwise free-flowing gypsy carnival (along with longtime keyboard player Russ Irwin).

Charles Epting

Actor Johnny Depp (who also played with Alice Cooper the other night) joined in on guitar for the vintage Fleetwood Mac blues jam “Stop Messin’ Around” and the Beatles‘ “Come Together,” while former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin came up for Aerosmith’s “Mama Kin” during the encores.

But the night was about Aerosmith.

The encore, a soaring, searing version of “Dream On” (with Tyler at white grand piano, joined by Perry and eventually consumed by towering columns of white steam), the jagged “Mama Kin” and a simmering, slow-cooked “Sweet Emotion” (replete with confetti blizzard at the very end) put a grand cap on two very memorable hours.

This was a glittery, ballsy, bluesy rock and roll revue by a band that acts half its age and could teach a lesson or two to a thousand current bands about showmanship, energy and hard work. Despite recent rumors, the train’s kept ‘a rolling, they’ve still got their wings – any cliche you want to hang on Aerosmith – it’s fine – they all fit – because this is a band that still seriously rocks.

Setlist:

Toys in the Attic
Love in an Elevator
Jaded
Oh Yeah
Livin’ on the Edge
Movin’ Out
Walkin’ the Dog (Rufus Thomas cover)
Last Child
Drum Solo
Rag Doll
Boogie Man
Combination
Stop Messin’ Around (Fleetwood Mac cover) (with Johnny Depp)
Come Together (The Beatles cover) (with Johnny Depp)
Lover Alot
What It Takes
No More No More
Dude (Looks Like a Lady)
Walk This Way (with Mother Popcorn intro)
Encore:
Dream On
Mama Kin (with Izzy Stradlin)
Sweet Emotion

Aerosmith’s 15th studio album, Music From Another Dimension!, is out now via Columbia Records.

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