BOSTON — For a quarter of a century, Aerosmith has entertained people from all walks of life, with its heavy guitars and hard-rocker image.
And the band is proving it still has what it takes to attract large stadium-sized crowds during this summer's "Nine Lives" tour, promoting its latest album of the same name.
What keeps fans coming back for more after 25 years?
For starters, Aerosmith knows how to entertain a crowd with its dramatic entrance and larger-than-life stage sets, including a 30-foot blow-up serpent and elaborate lighting.
But more important, its music has proved ageless. The group produces chart-topping hits of its own originality, maintaining its basic style, and still succeed almost independently of the evolving music trends.
And this time around, band members are reinforcing that their music, and their lives, have a much cleaner edge.
After the group's last tour in 1993 for the "Get a Grip" album, band members ran into some trouble. They faced allegations of drug relapse, and drummer Joey Kramer took a leave of absence for depression. They replaced their producer and fired their manager of 12 years, Tim Collins. The band went into rehabilitation and recovery together, checking into a California treatment center.
In 1996, Aerosmith decided to abandon the album it was recording, keeping only one song from its efforts. The group waited for Kramer to return before it produced "Nine Lives," released in April.
And at the July 17 concert at the Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts in Mansfield, Mass., the band sang to a different tune. When lead singer Steven Tyler shouted to the crowd, "Aerosmith is high on drugs," he prompted them to respond,"I don't think so."
What emerged from the band was a new confidence and a real comfort on stage from its last tour. Tyler took a hold of the microphone and didn't let go.
The band played its anthem hits such as "Janie's Got a Gun" and "Dude Looks Like a Lady," as well as "Walk This Way." But its new music showed a more mature sound, subtler and craftier, from some of the blatantly sexual lyrics contained in the hit song "Rag Doll" that were so prevalent in the '80s.
The group also experimented with Eastern sounds in "Sweet Taste of India," which was the inspiration for many of the stage sets.
But Aerosmith didn't forgo some of its defining traits. As usual, Tyler wore his skin-tight suit complete with feather stole, this time in bright pink in honor of a new song "Pink." This one he dedicated to his mother, who made a rare audience appearance.
Guitarist Joe Perry hit the mark when he introduced Tyler as the "Demon of Screamin'." Tyler's vocals combined with his personalized dance steps have defined the band over the years.
Maybe it's a mixture of the band's originality, its style, and its energy that keep fans coming back for more. But this time, Aerosmith has more to give.
* Aerosmith will perform Aug. 6 in New York.; Aug. 9 in Hartford, Conn.; Aug. 14 in Minneapolis; Aug. 16 in East Troy, Wis.; Aug. 21 in Auburn Hills, Mich.; Aug. 24 in Maryland Heights, Mo.; and Aug. 26 in Bonner Springs, Kan.