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Concert Reviews:
Aerosmith, Slash let rock rule at DTE

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- A pairing from the past and a passel of iconic rock hits turned the Aerosmith/Slash double bill into a Throwback Tuesday (Sept. 9) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

And one that was streamed live to the world via a Yahoo! webcast.

Tuesday's show, the penultimate date of the twosome's Let Rock Rule Tour, was a kind of reprise of a 1988 bill when Slash's band Guns N' Roses opened three nights for Aerosmith at what was then Pine Knob. Aerosmith was in the midst of a career reinvigoration -- and newfound sobriety -- while GNR was raising all sorts of hell as rock' burgeoning new bad boys. This time, however, the dynamics were all played out on stage as both acts turned in tight, genuinely exciting sets that, while focused primarily on their pasts, showed that both were still potent present-day concerns.

Slash and his band the Conspirators, with lead singer Myles Kennedy, is a week away from the release of their new album, "World On Fire," and gave the nearly sellout DTE crowd a sample via the title track during their hour-long set. But Slash is no dummy, and he put his musical history on parade with a generous selection (five of 11 songs) of GNR favorites plus "Slither" from his subsequent group Velvet Revolver.

Given GNR's tendency to not even get on stage until close to, and sometimes after, midnight, it was probably the earliest songs such as "Night Train," "You Could Be Mine," "Mr. Brownstone," "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City" are being played these days, and Slash played them like he owned the material rather than treating them as covers. That value-plus was certainly recognized by the fans, too, as they gave Slash and company a headliner-worthy reception throughout his portion of the show.

The version of Aerosmith that played DTE on Tuesday night was certainly healthier than its 1988 counterpart and both confident and comfortable with its four-plus decades of rock 'n' roll hitmaking. The instrumentalists played in ferocious and fluid lockstep through the 17-song, hour-and-45-minute set, while Steven Tyler was his usual onstage dervish -- kinetic, playful and cheerfully mugging for the Yahoo! cameras as he prowled a ramp extending into the DTE pavilion from the stage. And with tour keyboardist Russ Irwin singing in tandem, it was easy to forgive, or at least overlook, Tyler's occasional lapses into screeching.

It was as business-like a performance as Aerosmith has put on over the years, too, with little verbal padding -- though guitarist Joe Perry did salute Detroit as Aerosmith's "second home" -- and sharp segues between songs. Aerosmith surprisingly didn't play anything from its latest album, 2012's "Music From Another Dimension!" and, in fact, didn't play anything older than 2001's "Jaded," opening with its version of Tiny Bradshaw's "Train Kept A-Rollin' " and loading the set up with 80s and 90s hits such as "Eat the Rich," "Love in an Elevator," "Cryin', " "Livin' on the Edge" and "Rag Doll."

The group did reach deep for 1977's "Kings and Queens," while Slash brought a birthday cake on stage for Perry -- who turns 64 on Wednesday, Sept. 10, before joining Aerosmith for "Mama Kin." An aggressive combination of "No More No More," the Beatles' "Come Together" and "Walk This Way" closed the main portion of the show on a high, while Tyler sat at a white baby grand piano for the encore, singing bits of the Miracle's "You Really Got a Hold on Me" (which he performs with Smokey Robinson on the Motown legend's new "Smokey & Friends" album) and "Home Tonight" before leading the band into "Dream On."

"Sweet Emotion" ended the night with some justifiably sweet emotions from the crowd, and a certainty that Aerosmith had delivered another warm memory in its long relationship with Detroit rock city.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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