Just 24 hours prior to announcing a slew of summer tour dates, Steven Tyler gave the packed house in the David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, a taste of what’s to come. Spoiler alert, it’s delicious.
The 90 minute show on Monday night, May 2nd was an event in support of Tyler’s foundation, Janie’s Fund, which strives to make a difference in the lives of abused young women. As he shares during the set, he was affected by the stories he heard during his days in treatment. The ticketing tier had all types of VIP options, and there were dream prizes auctioned off with proceeds going to Janie’s Fund. Tyler’s insight and thoughts about his history and life today are peppered into the set list that contained his greatest hits seamlessly blended with his brand new country-esque offerings. I say country-esque, because what I hear is the classic Tyler sound with country underpinnings. His sound is so bold and recognizable, it is that which takes the forefront for me.
The eight piece, Nashville based band, Loving Mary, backed up their runway good looks, and Tyler’s giant stage presence, with bad ass multi-instrumental prowess. There were several guitars, a banjo, drums, piano, fiddle, harmonica, bells, and lord knows there was a tambourine. The staging transformed not only the stage, with its neon Indian head sign and vintage kitsch, but overhead the little white lights stretched above the audience to create a more intimate experience in this grand theater.
“Sweet Emotion,” just like we’ve heard it all those times before, but there he was at the scarf covered microphone. During a nod to Janis Joplin, the audience was momentarily quiet during Tyler’s fierce voice pleading for God to buy him a Mercedes Benz. The ode to Joplin continued with “Piece Of My Heart” as photos flickered on the screen covering the back wall of the stage. More evidence of the influence she has had on his personal- as well as musical- style.
The newest tunes, “Love is your Name” and “Red, White & You,” came next, almost tentatively at first, as this was the first time he was performing live. They nailed it though, and the crowd stayed on its feet, wanting to get as close as possible. Tyler shifted gears and reminisced about people and places, Joe Perry and New Hampshire respectively, before slipping into a Beatles medley that included “I’m Down,” “Oh Darlin” and “Come Together.”
One of the best parts of NYC shows is always the audience, and even with the Met Gala happening at the same time, there were plenty of wild fashion and stars sparkling at Lincoln Center. Bruce Willis, who I believe was sitting with Tyler’s daughter Liv, got called out as a prelude to his monster hit, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” from 1998’s Armageddon. The night’s mission was brought back into focus with the video that accompanied “Janie’s Got A Gun” and Tyler’s heartfelt thanks to his partners in this endeavor. After a short pause, Steven took to the piano for “Good Night to You” that flowed into “Dream On.” The crowd went wild, and just when we thought the night was over, the pace picked up again with “Train Kept a Rolling,” played with such energy it felt like one was about to barrel through…especially with Suzie McNeil on the harmonica. Maracas and a stint on the Bongos during “Walk This Way” were part of the finale, as Tyler had the diverse crowd all swaying with hands up as he danced across the stage.
This was a feel good show, for a good cause. It’s great when musicians we have loved forever continue to be creative, stretching themselves while remembering where they came from and sharing it all with us, the lucky audience. You can catch Steven Tyler on tour this summer and find out more about Janie’s Fund here.
– Ali Kaufman