Even outside the context of Aerosmith, Steven Tyler is a bonafide superstar with a brand new number one album to his name and a packed-to-the-rafters solo debut at the landmark Chicago Theatre. “This place is about 90 years old and so am I,” he joked right after opening with the gritty rocker “Sweet Emotion” and the harmonica-doused power ballad “Cryin,’” exuding charisma at every fling of his microphone stand and instantly living up to his “Demon Of Screamin’” reputation.
However, one of the most memorable moments actually came from an understated, haunting shuffle though “Janie’s Got A Gun,” which besides allowing Tyler to flex his pipes even further, also allowed the message of standing up against child abuse to fully resonate.
Rather than being joined by Joe Perry and the guys this time through town, Tyler was backed by the Nashville-based band Loving Mary, and as that geography suggests, his debut solo project, “We’re All Somebody From Somewhere,” does indeed lean in a country direction. Take for instance the title cut, which clearly had the dusty rumble of Music City, coupled with bits of good old fashioned southern rock, though with that unmistakable voice at the center, it made for an unmistakable Tyler tune.
Another example of that chunky wallop came during “Piece Of My Heart,” originally an Erma Franklin tune, later covered by Janis Joplin and many others, but one that unequivocally belonged to the headliner on this particular night. Aerosmith songs such as “Jaded” (which he co-wrote with Loving Mary member Marti Frederiksen) and “What It Takes” also worked perfectly throughout this musical detour, fitting snuggly alongside the newer “Love Is Your Name” and “My Own Worst Enemy.”
The “Out On A Limb” outing also included a trip through Tyler’s pre-fame roots for covers of The Beatles’ “I’m Down” and “Come Together” (later a hit for Aerosmith), plus Fleetwood Mac’s bluesy “Rattlesnake Shake.” Although they all demonstrated the depth of Tyler’s voice, the piano-driven “Dream On” from his day job and the sputtering “Walk This Way” (reworked with a stomping percussion section) poured the most kerosene on the flames.
However, one of the most memorable moments actually came from an understated, haunting shuffle though “Janie’s Got A Gun,” which besides allowing Tyler to flex his pipes even further, also allowed the message of standing up against child abuse to fully resonate. After building back up with the mid-tempo anthem-in-the-making “Only Heaven,” Tyler and Loving Mary stormed through “Train Kept A-Rollin,’” yet another statement of assurance that no matter where the cards fall with Aerosmith in the future, its longtime leader is right on track.
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For additional information on Steven Tyler, visit StevenTyler.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at Chicago Theatre include Jenny Lewis (Sept. 8); The Piano Guys (Sept. 17); Lake Street Drive (Sept. 23); Celtic Thunder (Sept. 24); Sigur Rós (Sept. 30); Brian Wilson (Oct. 1); Alessia Cara (Oct. 7); Ben Rector (Oct. 21); “Love In The ‘90s” Tour featuring Blackstreet, Teddy Riley & Dave Hollister, En Vogue, Jagged Edge, Next and Adina Howard (Oct. 22); John Mellencamp (Oct. 25); Amos Lee (Oct. 28) and Elvis Costello & The Imposters (Oct. 29). For additional details, visit TheChicagoTheatre.com.