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Desert Companion

People, Places, and Things We Love About Las Vegas: In Praise of Aerosmith's Residency

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Aerosmith has played Las Vegas long enough to outlast the city’s first Hard Rock Café. They opened it with a benefit concert in 1990, and it was demolished last November, while they happened to be in town for their Deuces Are Wild showcase at the Park Theater.

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But the Boston rockers aren’t counting on mere longevity to keep their residency fresh. Aerosmith hasn’t changed the everyman appeal of its loud — seriously loud — guitar hooks buffered by wisecracks. But this time they spared no expense, making sure to throw in almost EVERY TRICK from other concert residencies and shows on the Strip — except for maybe the showgirls. (Dancers are the first rule for pop divas, but not so much for old rockers.) You’ve gotta admire their gumption.

Carlos Santana and John Fogerty may display their Woodstock baby pics on the rear screen while their old selves play, but Aerosmith takes AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL VIDEO to a new height with a 30-minute pre-show countdown video of the band’s early history. ENVIRONMENTAL VARIETY PERFORMERS from the Cirque du Soleil playbook add even more to the preshow mix.

SPECIAL AUDIENCE SEATING RIGHT ONSTAGE awaits those willing to pay as much as $821 (before taxes and fees), a concept tracing back to Barry Manilow at the Hilton in 2005. Longtime fans rock to the hits, yes, but also to DEEP ALBUM CUTS such as “Lord of the Thighs” and “Toys in the Attic,” the latter presenting the opportunity to air up the GIANT INFLATABLES popularized by Elton John over at Caesars Palace. Hello, Creepy Teddy. They warned me about the brown acid.

As Park Theater co-tenant Lady Gaga can tell you, nothing says Instagram photo like the DRY ICE-SHROUDED GRAND PIANO magically rising for “Dream On.” Bonus points when it’s structurally sound enough for guitarist Joe Perry to stand on top of and solo. If you’re old-school and prefer lighter-flicking ballads to iPhone fumbling, you’ll be glad to see that Steven Tyler sings “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” with the help of a HARD TO HEAR BUT VISUALLY STRIKING GRATUITOUS STRING QUARTET.

The CATWALK that lowers from on high to let Tyler and Perry “Walk This Way” from stage to mezzanine is an unlikely second callback to Manilow, in this case his big “Copacabana” moment. The GIANT BALLOONS that the audience bats around are fairly ubiquitous now, though Rod Stewart ingeniously substituted soccer balls. And the CONFETTI DROP must be written into the contract for all Vegas residencies. However, the 71-YEAR-OLD MAN GOING SHIRTLESS is not actually a thing yet outside this show. And while Tyler can get away with it, better if that one doesn’t catch on.

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