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[whitespace] Loose Lips

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler planted plenty of kisses on the lucky ladies in the front row at Shoreline

By Sarah Quelland

Aerosmith just gets better with age. Admittedly, I wasn't privy to the band's decadent days of drug abuse, infighting and (justifiably) lagging album sales, a time when vocalist Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry racked up bad-boy points and became known as the Toxic Twins for their heroin habits.

But those days are long gone and so far removed from the older, wiser, clean-and-sober Aerosmith of today that the tales of debauchery have become no more than the stuff rock myths are made of for most people under 30.

No, Aerosmith introduced itself to my generation in 1986 with its career-resuscitating appearance in the video for Run-D.M.C.'s rap-rock remake of Aerosmith's own 1977 hit "Walk This Way," and the release of Permanent Vacation in 1987 solidified the band's return. Since then, Aerosmith has enjoyed strong chart showings with Pump, Get a Grip, Nine Lives and its latest, Just Push Play.

Aerosmith belongs to my generation just as much as it belongs to my parents. And although it released its first album in 1973, it's impossible to think of Aerosmith as anything but current.

Like the quintessential party band, Aerosmith put on a spectacularly fun show last Wednesday (Aug. 8) at Shoreline Amphitheatre. Any suspicions that the veteran rockers were going to turn in a tired, greatest-hits nostalgia show were blown to bits as soon as the band hit the stage.

In a bold move, Aerosmith kicked off the night with the exotic-tinged "Beyond Beautiful"-- a song from JPP that hasn't even been released as a single yet--and the band proceeded to focus on material from the new album, including "Jaded," "Just Push Play," "Fly Away From Here" and "Sunshine."

Despite looking and sounding phenomenal and having the energy of a hyperactive teenager, the most remarkable thing about Tyler's performance was how much fun he seemed to be having. He must have spent half the night running up into the crowd and kissing all the girls in the front row. Time after time, the flamboyant frontman returned to the stage with a bright, mischievous gleam in his dark eyes, wiping the telltale lipstick from his legendary lips.

Aerosmith brings generations together through its music, and the band struck an effective balance with early songs ("Big Ten-Inch Record," "Mama Kin," "Draw the Line" and "Sweet Emotion") merging effortlessly with newer material ("Love in an Elevator," "Pink," "Eat the Rich" and "Cryin'"). The songs Aerosmith didn't perform were as indicative of its vast repertoire as the songs it did.

In a reportedly unprecedented move, Aerosmith had a second stage erected on the lawn, and midway through its set, the band members were led by camouflage-clad ushers to the temporary setup, where it performed classics "Same Old Song and Dance," "Dream On" and "Toys In the Attic" for the adoring fans on the grass.

One of the most affecting moments of the concert came when Tyler stood at the top of an almost unused silver ramp on the main stage that was inexplicably designed to look like a futuristic insect leg. Seemingly lost in another world, he turned sideways and gazed into a memory as he sang what may be the band's most beautiful song, "Seasons of Wither," from 1974's Get Your Wings.

This marked the beginning of a well-orchestrated cool-down period for the band, which followed that song with another slow one, the Diane Warren-penned sentimental ballad "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" from the Armageddon soundtrack. After the band took the time to interact on stage and show off its collective chops, the guys caught any lost breath in time to give their all to their most important song, "Walk This Way." Never have nonsensical nursery-rhyme lyrics sounded so sexy.

After a brief exit that brought on a galaxy of lighters that flickered like fireflies in the open amphitheater, the band returned to play an encore of "Livin' on the Edge," "What It Takes" and the concert's closer, "Train Kept A'rollin'."

Aerosmith really seemed to be in rare form. The rock-solid band played together with the experienced ease and understanding of three decades of ups and downs, and it's great to see it's come out on top. I've never seen any band get so close to its audience. Aerosmith gave a memorable performance worthy of its extremely dedicated fans and made it as personal as any band could ever hope to in a venue that holds 25,000 people.

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From the August 16-22, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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