Steven Tyler Lets It All Hang Out During 'Out on a Limb' Solo Show
Every New Yorker with a flare for the dramatic dreams of doing a one-man show. So does every rock singer who’s tussled with an uppity lead guitarist. No wonder Steven Tyler had such a ball on Monday night at Lincoln Center.
Technically, "Steven Tyler… Out on a Limb" wasn’t a solo gig for the Aerosmith frontman, born Steven Victor Tallarico just a few blocks away on March 26, 1948. The Manhattan native was joined by Loving Mary, the seven-piece Nashville rock ’n’ tonk band that backs him on his forthcoming country album. But the night was all about Tyler -- his stories, his songs, his motormouthed philosophies on life.
Also: his charity, Janie’s Fund, which supports abused and neglected girls across the country. The concert was a fundraiser for the organization, and as Tyler explained while introducing 1989’s "Janie’s Got a Gun" -- one of many Aerosmith hits he revisited during the performance -- it’s a cause he’s passionate about.
"I’m in awe of women who are standing up to abuse," said Tyler, who wrote "Janie’s Got a Gun" after checking into rehab and realizing how many abuse victims wind up addicted to drugs. "It doesn’t have to be like that," he said, before launching into a stormy country-spiced version featuring piano, violin, and banjo. Tyler grumbled the chorus like an old man gossiping from his front porch about some local violence that just went down.
This was the heaviest moment in a show that featured Tyler hamming it up and telling scripted tales about his early years in NYC, his subsequent move to southern New Hampshire, and his eventual success with guitarist Joe Perry and the bad boys of Aerosmith. He used family photos and video montages to show how he went from 20-something loser to bar-band America’s answer to Mick Jagger.
Still a flouncy shrieker with long locks and a thing for scarves, Tyler was a natural for the "look at me" retrospective. The spry 68-year-old quoted Einstein and invoked The Wizard of Oz on the intro to "Jaded," praised Janis Joplin before covering "Piece of My Heart" and flipped his harmonica into the crowd after blowing a mean solo to close "Cryin’."
Tyler dedicated 1998’s "I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing" to his daughter Liv Tyler and her Armageddon costar Bruce Willis -- both of whom were in the house, rocking along with an audience too caught up in the music to gawk at celebrities. Tyler joked about how the Diane Warren-penned power ballad stands as Aerosmith’s only No. 1 hit, while "Sweet Emotion," a crowd favorite that came at the top of the set, was only a modest hit.
But Tyler wasn’t there to hate on the music biz. He’s still in the game, as he reminded everyone with his trio of new-school country tunes: the slick "Love Is Your Name," which played like U2 doing Rod Stewart’s "Forever Young"; "Red, White & You," a grittier number with nods to Tom Petty; and the previously unheard "Only Heaven," a light acoustic jam that gives way to big-ol’ power chords reminiscent of Aerosmith’s 1988 monster ballad "Angel."
Tyler could’ve ended with his encore reading of the super-charged piano ballad "Dream On," the closest he’s got to a Broadway showstopper. Instead, he boogied on home with the blues-rock standard "Train Kept A-Rollin’" and Aerosmith’s "Walk This Way," a 1975 hard-rock fave that worked as hip-hop a decade later and still sounds fine with hints of Southern twang. Some things just never get old.