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Aerosmith is back on the Strip and badder than ever

Updated September 15, 2022 - 6:06 pm

Early in Aerosmith’s roaring return to Dolby Live on Wednesday night, Steven Tyler grabbed at the audio pack clipped to the back of his white jeans. The wiry technology was slipping free, and not for the first time.

“What is it? Is my belt is too tight?” Tyler said as a stagehand arrived to refasten the device “This happens, every (expletive) show.”

I became wistful. The moment revived the heady days of 2019, during Aerosmith’s original “Deuces” run. Tyler wasn’t kidding. That particular piece of technology is known to work loose, as the 74-year-old front man stomps and struts around the stage.

It’s a consequence of the energy Aerosmith brings to Dolby Live, and has been absent for 2 1/2 years. The band had planned to return in June, but pushed the date back as Tyler entered rehab. We’ve been tapping our fingers ever since. Not surprisingly, Aerosmith didn’t disappoint. Health struggles and inactivity haven’t taken the edge from a band that just gets badder with age (the “Deuces” run continues Saturday, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 29 and Oct. 2 and 5; back again for eight shows in November and December).

Tyler remains the focal point, with his “Toxic Twins” sidekick Joe Perry providing his searing guitar work. They saunter, and at times break into a sprint, around the vast Dolby Live stage set. Founding bassist Tom Hamilton, with the band at every stop for 52 years, is back. Guitarist Brad Whitford is still a key figure in the band’s performances, and also history (he joined in 1971) . Veteran drum tech John Douglas, who has grown a wild rock ‘n’ roll mane over the past 2 1/2 years, continues to fill the spot formerly held by Joey Kramer, still on what is described as a temporary absence.

But Kramer is still prominently represented in the 30-minute documentary that plays prior to the show, another familiar element from the pre-pandemic days.

We know this band, and by now we know this production tailored for the Vegas stage. Aerosmith plays the “must” hits, with “Back In The Saddle” at the top, the adrenal message that the show has finally returned after so much time away. Also in the returning set list: “Sweet Emotion,” with Hamilton’s iconic bass riff; the callback favorite “Love In an Elevator,” (which Tyler has always said is based on an actual event); “Toys In The Attic,” giving the reason for the imposing, inflated figures hanging from the venue’s ceiling. We favor the giant elephant.

The band made effective use of the projections along the scrims in front of the stage, and the video panels at the back and at the sides. The winged Aerosmith logo is splashed across those screens. Footage of natural disasters and violent protests were shown during the powerhouse, “Livin’ on the Edge.”

The theater continues to thump its new Dolby Atmos sound system (the partnership is the catalyst for the theater’s renaming from Park Theater). The system effectively delivers the musicians’ sonic sounds, including the four-piece string section of Vegas players Jennifer Lynn, Monique Olivas, Jennifer Hellewell and Sarah Chaffee. Those artists were summoned for “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” among the night’s highlights. The Dolby system captures Tyler’s vocals so effectively that at times his voice overpowers the instrumentation. It’s a good problem to have.

At the close, Tyler and Perry rambled up the venue’s catwalk, directly over the crowd, for an extended version of “Walk This Way.” The rock stars keep climbing, defying age, reversing time, busting loose from their stage gear. The rest of us are just along for the ride.

iHeart Diddy

Sean “Diddy” Combs has been added to Friday’s roster at iHeart Radio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena. Pitbull opens. Avril Lavigne, Black Eyed Peas, Halsey, Lionel Richie, LL Cool J, Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Megan Thee Stallion, Morgan Wallen, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Sam Smith and The Black Keys are also in the iHeart lineup. The show broadcasts live across the country on all iHeartMedia radio stations, including the Vegas outposts Sunny 106.5-FM, 93.1-FM The Mountain, 95.5-FM The Bull and Real 103.9-FM. The CW Network will broadcast a two-night television special this October. In addition, The CW will exclusively livestream both nights of the festival via The CW app and CWTV.com.

Mr. (Resorts) Worldwide

With strong confidence, we expect Pitbull to perform multiple dates at The Theatre at Resorts World in 2023. He is also performing at the hotel’s massive NYE party.

Soul Juice’s moment

A huge gig is coming up for a band that deserves it. David Tatlock’s Soul Juice Band plays Huntridge Stage at Life is Beautiful from 3 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Sunday. Soul Juice had actually entered a battle of the bands competition four years ago at the Bunkhouse. The top prize was a spot at Life is Beautiful. They didn’t make it then.

“But I kept nagging and nagging, and had almost given up hope when Craig (Asher Nyman) contacted me,” Tatlock said, referring to LiB’s head of music and programming. “He said, ‘Let’s put a little funk on them Sunday.’ So here we are.”

Cool Hang Alert

Column fave Noybel Gorgoy hosts at Maxan Jazz Sushi & Jazz from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday. The Cuban-born Gorgoy has performed with Paul Shaffer, Clint Holmes and (just last month) Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns. Steven Lee is on guitar, Derek Jones on bass and Ramses Rodriguez on drums. This band can play at all, aside from perhaps polka. Go to MaxanJazz.com for details.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.