By Robyn Crosby
Photos by Andrew Hartl
It’s been a big summer for Steven Tyler, releasing his first solo album and touring. The 19-city North American tour, aptly named, Out On A Limb, came to a close Tuesday in Toronto. Tyler played to a sold-out and intimate crowd of approximately 3100 people at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
The Aerosmith frontman delivered a show that was full of dialogue, jokes, trips down memory lane, and new and old tunes. A photo diary accompanied Tyler’s stories on the screen behind the band. “I want you to be 20 or 15, 30 or 40 years younger,” Tyler said as he showed pictures of his family members, Joe Perry and more.
Not that there was dispute before but going out on a limb and “taking a risk” as Tyler puts it, proved he was the ultimate showman and the slight side step from Aerosmith was a worthwhile idea. He played the role of a comedian, storyteller, and music historian, alongside playing the ukulele and piano. His garb and props all intact; scarves on the mic stand and signature sways.
Backed by the band Loving Mary, Tyler performed Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion, Cryin’, Jaded, Dream On, Walk This Way and a countrified version of Janie’s Got a Gun, which appears on the new album. Other covers included I’m Down (The Beatles), Come Together (The Beatles, Aerosmith previously covered), Piece of My Heart (Janis Joplin/Erma Franklin), Rattlesnake Shake (Fleetwood Mac), Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Tiny Bradshaw). His rendition of Joplin’s classic was nothing short of perfection. He loved “taking things up to 12” and credited Joplin for being the first one to do that.
Six of the songs from the set were from Tyler’s recently released album, which went straight to Number 1 on the Billboard Country Charts in record sales. The new songs, subject to scrutiny, are Rockin’ Country and not today’s Pop Country. For a side project, the album is a perfect complement to his portfolio of work. Despite the banjo and fiddle being part of the music, it really is a side step versus a departure in the way you might look at Darius Rucker of Hootie and The Blowfish. Tyler is believable. He states his influences and lists the people he’s worked with and collaborated with in years past and during his time spent in Nashville writing and recording. And to take things the other way, Loving Mary band member Marti Frederiksen, is a longtime friend and collaborator with Tyler, writing many Aerosmith songs including Jaded. Frederiksen also wrote Carrie Underwood’s, Undo It.
Tyler does touch on popular country music topics such as Jesus, Whiskey and his first single, Red White and You, of course, reference American Pride and having a girl by your side. (I’m amazed that song title hadn’t been done yet, so good on Tyler for scooping that). He even joked about the stereotype that had possibility been laid upon him in the press saying “What am I going to sing about? Tell your ma and your pa…” Tyler’s songs are fun and relatable. Two he played and are worth checking out are, the album’s title track, “We’re All Somebody From Somewhere” and “Make My Own Sunshine”. “It Ain’t Easy” was part of the encore and also the second single from the album. It takes on a very Aerosmith-esque feel, just in a different genre with different backing instruments. Visiting singer/songwriter’s circles, getting the full Nashville/Country experience at Big Machine Records, Tyler wrote 12 of the 15 tracks. His new labelmates include: Aaron Lewis, Maddie and Tae, and Zac Brown Band, just to add to his new legit country venture.
Toronto’s crowd got a nice surprise and so did Loving Mary member, Susie McNeil when Tyler said, “This song was a hit and it still should be a hit” and called upon McNeil to play her song, “Believe”, the Canadian Olympic Team’s anthem song from 2010. Hailing from Mississauga, the former pop singer is also known for being a contestant on Rockstar: INXS in 2005.
There were so many wonderful moments created by the band and Tyler from beginning to end. But an organic unplanned, awkward moment occurred when Tyler noticed someone near the front row on his phone. “Mr. On-The-Phone, Get the Fuck Off!” he said. “How come you’re on your phone when she’s that beautiful?” Most of the crowd during the show had been recording off their phones, but this guy appeared to be texting as Tyler demonstrated.
The concert almost coming to a close, Loving Mary thanked him for being part of their band and gave him a 1962 reissue Paul McCartney bass, to which Tyler endearingly thanked them and started singing, “Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you…”.
After the encore, Tyler proclaimed, “I’m outta tour… and I’m outta here.” The tour picks up again in January and we should hope that it hits Toronto again as the show is money well spent. Tyler’s initiative Janie’s Fund is also promoted at the show. The organization provides funds for abused girls.