Of all the rock legends to sojourn in Sin City over the years, Aerosmith are some of the worthiest contenders.
On Wednesday (Aug. 15), Aerosmith visited the Today show to confirm their long-rumored Deuces Are Wild Las Vegas residency for next year. The Boston hard rockers will play 18 shows at MGM’s Park Theater from April 6, 2019 through July 9, joining the ranks of Queen + Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga and Blink-182. “We want to bring a show in there that we really can’t do when we’re on the road on a regular tour,” guitarist Joe Perry said on Today. “So we want to bring a show that still has Aerosmith and all the guts of Aerosmith but has a whole other element to it.”
Of all the rock legends to sojourn in Sin City over the years, Aerosmith are some of the worthiest contenders. The sleazy, seismic riffs and arena rock bombast of their drug-fueled ’70s heyday inspired the glam metal zeitgeist of the 1980s—a wave that Aerosmith themselves rode to unprecedented commercial heights following their late-‘80s comeback. But unlike many of their poufy-haired peers, Aerosmith weathered rock’s shifting tides by constantly reinventing themselves and imbuing their biggest hits with unshakable pop hooks. From the sinister (“Back in the Saddle”) to the saccharine (“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”), their songs have transcended generations and become indispensable entries in the popular music canon. In other words, they’re the kind of act that thrives in Vegas.
Dig into their R&B roots
Aerosmith have never been shy about their blues and R&B roots: They covered Rufus Thomas’s “Walking the Dog” on their first album, and they regularly vamp on James Brown’s “Mother Popcorn” in concert. Heck, they even made a blues cover album, 2004’s Honkin’ on Bobo. Residencies often lend themselves to more career-retrospective performances, and Vegas would give Aerosmith the chance to flex the chops that first won them fans and label attention nearly 50 years ago, long before they racked up Grammys and platinum plaques. Some faint-of-heart fans might balk at the concept, but look no further than their smoldering cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rattlesnake Shake” for proof that 10-minute blues jams can be just as exciting as the hits.
Play the classic albums in full
It’s easy to lose track of all their smash singles, but Aerosmith also released a string of classic LPs over the course of their career. Fans rightfully cite Get Your Wings, Toys in the Attic and Rocks as some of their finest full-lengths, but the criminally underrated Night in the Ruts and late-‘80s masterpiece Pump also hold up as excellent, cohesive bodies of work. Aerosmith could change up their Vegas sets by playing one of these classic albums top-to-bottom every night. Steven Tyler’s voice has defied the laws of aging and could still handle the rigors of songs like “Monkey on My Back” or “Chiquita.” The best part? Most of their finest albums barely pass the 40-minute mark, giving them plenty of time to stuff their set with other hits.
Give the stories behind the songs
Aerosmith have been around for nearly 50 years, and their concerts practically function as rock history lessons at this point. Tyler, never at a loss for words, often regales fans with the backstory of “Movin’ Out,” the first song he and Perry ever wrote together at 1325 Commonwealth Avenue. But what about “Walk this Way,” to which Tyler scrawled the lyrics on the wall of the Record Plant’s stairwell after losing the original copy in a taxi? Or the scathing lyrics to “Sweet Emotion,” which many Aerosmith diehards interpret as Tyler’s jab at Perry’s then-wife, Elyssa? The autobiographical “No Surprize” offers countless gems, such as the band’s first New York City gig at Max’s Kansas City and the time they allegedly scored drugs from a police officer backstage. Whether these stories are real or revisionist history is up for debate, but fans would surely suspend their disbelief just to hear the band dish on these classic songs.
Let the band play some solo tracks
To clarify, I am not advocating for Tyler’s one-off pop fiasco, “(It) Feels So Good.” It would, however, be a treat to hear “When I Needed You,” the jangly garage-pop number from Tyler’s ‘60s band, Chain Reaction. Perry also has a wellspring of excellent solo compositions, such as the rollicking “Shakin’ My Cage” off his eponymous 2005 solo album or “Conflict of Interest” off the Joe Perry Project’s 1980 debut, Let the Music Do the Talking. These songs are all a part of Aerosmith’s half-century legacy, and musically, they can stand on their own. But in the context of a full performance, they would accomplish something more important: reminding listeners that Aerosmith is, ultimately, greater than the sum of its parts.
Aerosmith: Deuces Are Wild 2019 Residency Dates
April: 6, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 21, 23, 26
June 19, 22, 24, 27, 29
July 2, 4, 7, 9