Aerosmith’s act hasn’t changed much over the years, and Saturday’s rock-out at the Glen Helen Pavilion showed why. Their music has become a bit more safe, less rebellious, leaning more to the pop side, and their lyrics have evolved one notch or two to become more socially aware and observant. But they’re still the carefree, audacious rock band audiences knew and loved in the ’70s, and Saturday’s crowd of metalheads showered appreciation.
Steven Tyler, the prototype for hard-rock frontmen, showed he still knows his way around an arena. When the show opened, the band was a silhouette behind a zebra-striped sheet, dancing to a primitive drum solo which soon became the single “Eat the Rich,” from the band’s most recent Geffen album, “Get a Grip.” Up went the sheet and out came the flamboyant, athletic Tyler. The rest of the band became the background for Tyler to play the audience like a well-learned instrument.
With a substantial catalog of riff-oriented songs, Aerosmith has no problem keeping fans stoked. A well-selected playlist included some older classics such as “Sweet Emotion” and “Home Sweet Home”; newer, more pop hits “Crying” and “Amazing”; and, from previous multiplatinum “Pump,” hits like “Janie’s Got a Gun” and “Love in an Elevator.” Mid-set they performed the band’s less popular material from “Get a Grip”– the weakest part of the show — and interspersed some blues and short jams to let band members show their chops.
The band returned for an encore with the classic “Dream On,””Ten-Inch Record, “”Livin’ on the Edge” and favorite “Walk This Way.”
Opening artist, Atlantic’s Collective Soul, delivered a tight set with poignant guitar riffs and straight-ahead rhythms. The question is, in an industry where “alternative” is king, will this type of retro survive? Certainly , Aerosmith proved it can.