We all know the lips work just fine. After all, we heard all those weird one-liners Steven Tyler fired off during the past two years as a judge on "American Idol." But do the legs and lungs work as well as the lips?
It's been three years since Tyler fell off the stage in Sturgis, S.D., nearly two years since his Aerosmith played a full concert in the United States, and eight months since he slipped in the shower, smashing his face on tour in Paraguay. And did we mention that Tyler has been famously feuding with the rest of Aerosmith as they sat on the sidelines while he built Brand Tyler the past two years?
Well, forget the bickering. Aerosmith was back in the saddle again Saturday night at sold-out Target Center before 14,000 fans for the opening of the highly anticipated Global Warming Tour. To no one's surprise, Tyler was in good voice, unleashing his banshee scream midway through the opening "Draw the Line," which dates back to 1977. At 64, he showed admirable energy and spirit, prancing around in a long black coat, with silver-studded sleeves, a floppy hat and oversized sunglasses. Eventually, the coat, shades and hat came off, and Tyler carried on in all his tanned and toned glory. He was hyper but maybe not as hyperactive as in the past. (Aerosmith last played in Minneapolis in 2006.)
And Tyler addressed the relationship with guitarist Joe Perry from the get-go. Rumors would have you think that these two longtime buds -- the band formed in 1970 -- get along as infamously as the Kinks' Davies brothers or Oasis' Gallagher brothers. But, on "Draw the Line," Tyler and Perry shared a microphone, the Toxic Twins (as Tyler dubbed the duo years ago) looking like two peas in a studs-and-sequined rock 'n' roll pod. By night's end, the Twins were leaning on each other's backs during "Walk This Way" and Tyler had shared clear moments of esprit de corps with bassist Tom Hamilton, guitarist Brad Whitford and drummer Joey Kramer. And this wasn't Van Halen faux camaraderie but the genuine thing.
After three days of rehearsals in Minneapolis, the Boston quintet sounded road-tested tight, performing material dating back to its 1973 debut and from its upcoming August album, "Music From Another Dimension" (first new CD in seven years). Highlights included "Sweet Emotion" with Perry's psychedelic guitar; "Mama Kin" with Perry's rip-roaring guitar; the punkish "S.O.S." on which the band rocked with abandon, and the ballad "What It Takes" with Tyler starting a cappella and eventually building into overwrought wailing. But then just about everything about Tyler is over the top, which is part of what makes him such a quintessential rock star -- still.
Unfortunately, the appreciation of an otherwise exhilarating concert was diminished by the presence for much of the 100-minute set of an Aerosmith photographer, standing 3 feet from Tyler, all over the stage. At show's end, the singer introduced the shutterbug and called him a pain in the butt but "he gets great shots."
Set list: startribune.com/artcetera