Friday, October 11, 2019

Aerosmith - 'Deuces Are Wild' concert review: Las Vegas, Nevada

photo by Zach Whitford
Aerosmith finished this month's batch of dates for its "Deuces Are Wild" concert residency Tuesday at Park MGM Hotel & Casino's Park Theater with some high wattage star power: Johnny Depp.

The actor and musician, who is a member of the supergroup Hollywood Vampires with Aerosmith lead guitarist Joe Perry, appeared in Las Vegas on the fun, hard rocking main set closer "Toys in the Attic." He obviously had a blast playing guitar and singing. Depp's frequent director Tim Burton was also in attendance. 

These shows utilize L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound, a smart audio technology which provides a unique fan experience. It captures the original sound sources and places them in a 3D space rather than two stereo channels. As a result, the listener is enveloped by more nuanced music. The technology was developed by L-Acoustics, a French loudspeaker, amplifier and signal processing device manufacturer that pioneered modern day sound systems called line source arrays in the 1990s.

Launched last April and running through June 2020 (with various breaks in between; see the full schedule below), "Deuces Are Wild" offers a VIP Onstage THX Experience package where fans get to watch the show onstage, enjoy a private bar and listen through THX-certified 1More Triple Driver in-ear headphones with an audio mix directly from the band's soundboard. 

Before everything got underway Tuesday, it was evident concertgoers were in for something special. Not only were they seeing the veteran Boston band in an intimate 5,200-capacity venue rigged with more than 200 speakers (compared to upwards of 50 at a regular stadium tour), the pre-show recording played what felt like cars speeding right next to you.

Once the light dimmed, an excellent half-hour film on Aerosmith history shown on tall panels in front of the stage contained animation, rare photos and video clips. Producer Giles Martin (The Beatles' LOVE by Cirque du Soleil; Beatles album reissues) remixed the music for immersive sound.

photo by Zach Whitford
The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famers started the solid 95-minute set with raucous top 20 AOR radio hit "Let the Music Do the Talking" off 1985's Done with Mirrors. Perry did the first of several wicked slide guitar work displays.

Longtime drum tech John Douglas ably filled in for original member Joey Kramer, still apparently dealing with a shoulder injury. Singer Steven Tyler was no worse for wear here after cancelling one show last month due to losing his voice. 

"Rag Doll," all bright and brassy with horns triggered by an auxiliary keyboardist, Perry on pedal steel and Suzie McNeil adding supple backing vocals, was an early standout. Tyler did the initial verse of "What it Takes" a capella. "Sweet Emotion" featured dazzling lasers, an extended Perry guitar solo outro and the tune received a rousing response. 

The Toxic Twins were seated front and center for the swampy acoustic blues of "Hangman Jury" (from Permanent Vacation) where Tyler amazed with his harmonica chops. Perry took over lead vocals on Fleetwood Mac's "Stop Messin' Around" as Tyler did some more harp runs. All the instrumental spotlights definitely seemed sharper with the immersive sound technology. 

During "Livin' on the Edge," Tyler went into the crowd. Striking images were projected on the screen panels and the socially conscious lyrics still held true 26 years later. A string quartet sweetened popular "Armaggedon" ballad "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" as bassist Tom Hamilton strolled into the crowd.

photo by Zach Whitford
Come encore time, Tyler was seated at a piano at the B-stage and sang a bit of The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" before transitioning into the dramatic '70s power ballad "Dream On" with the string players back in tow.

Perry joined his longtime songwriting partner atop the piano for a blazing solo. Immediately afterward, a snippet of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" led into the finale, "Walk This Way," with the pair performing atop a raised platform. 

All told, the concert residency is highly recommended for Aerosmith enthusiasts.

Setlist: Let the Music Do the Talking/Rag Doll/Last Child/What it Takes/Sweet Emotion/Hangman Jury/Seasons of Wither/Stop Messin' Around/Cryin'/Livin' on the Edge/Rats in the Cellar/I Don't Want to Miss a Thing/Love in an Elevator/Toys in the Attic
Encore: Golden Slumbers>Dream On/Immigrant Song>Walk This Way

"Deuces Are Wild" runs 8 p.m. Nov. 14, 16, 19, 21, 24, 26, 29; Dec. 1 & 4, Jan. 29 & 31, Feb. 3, 5, 8, 10, 13, 15; May 20, 23, 25, 28, 30; June 2 & 4, Park Theater, Park MGM Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas,,

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