Tina Whelski

Aerosmith @ Madison Square Garden

MANHATTAN, NY—Aerosmith showed how the band just gets better with age during their recent show at Madison Square Garden.

In 42 years, Aerosmith have peaked, declined, and been reborn, selling over 150 million albums worldwide along the way. They’ve done what most bands (or relationships of any kind) can’t seem to do these days: survive. And when Steven Tyler (vocals) and Joe Perry (guitar) rose from the stage to kick off the night, they revealed just how the band, formed in 1970, has weathered trends and time.

The folks sitting in the 400 level couldn’t see the wrinkles on the faces of rock legends Tyler, Perry, Brad Whitford (guitars), Joey Kramer (drums) and Tom Hamilton (bass). So when the band’s original lineup opened with “Mama Kin,” and later played “Movin’ Out” and “Walkin’ The Dog,” all from the band’s debut album, Aerosmith, fans just saw all the flashy showmanship and energy of a 1973 performance. The only hints that this concert belonged to Aerosmith’s 2012 Global Warming Tour was the fact that the musicianship was tighter than ever and the “Toxic Twins” of the ‘70s—Tyler and Perry—have long been sober. From the front rows, the view was of a group of veteran bad boys from Boston, who have excelled at their crafts, and despite their wiser expressions, refuse to grow old.

From Pump (1989), Aerosmith grabbed their first number one single, “Love In An Elevator,” and used “What It Takes” to show off Tyler’s still-impressive high vocals. He laid on his belly to serenade a woman in the crowd and updated the lyrics to fit the times: “There goes my old girlfriend with another couple diamond rings/And all the late night promises I guess they don’t mean shit.”

Aerosmith also gave us a sample of its pop ballad period with “Jaded” from Just Push Play (2001), and introduced “Lover A Lot” and “Oh Yeah” from their new release, Songs From Another Dimension, the band’s 15th studio album and first disc of all-new material in 11 years. “Livin’ On The Edge” from Get A Grip (1993), “Rag Doll” from Big Ones (1994), “Combination,” with Perry on lead vocals, and “Last Child” from Rocks (1976) were also pulled from Aerosmith’s iconic, bluesy catalog.

“My favorite Aerosmith song of the day is for you,” said Steven Tyler to the audience as the band launched into “No More No More” from Toys In The Attic (1975). Surprise guest Sean Lennon and his guitar joined the band for an electrifying cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together.”

Following “Walk This Way,” Aerosmith encored with the original power ballad, “Dream On.” Tyler rose, like before, from the stage, this time seated at a white piano. Perry joined him, perched atop the piano as he struck the song’s classic chords. “Sweet Emotion” from Toys In The Attic ended the show, with Tyler presenting “Mr. Sweet Emotion Tom Hamilton” for an extended intro of the song’s famously repeating bass riff. Aerosmith’s performance taught new fans, and reminded long-time followers, about an era when rock ‘n’ roll was about risking it all with your friends and beating the odds.