Much has been made of Steven Tyler’s debut Country album, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere, and I still stand by my words in my review of a few weeks ago…..Tyler IS the bad-ass rock star that most artists who have entered the format the past decade want to be. That being said, don’t mistake his solo Out On A Limb tour as an attempt to prove how “Country” he is. There was – and is – simply no need for that.
The singer made his Nashville stop at the Ryman Auditorium this past Wednesday night (August 17), and from the opening chords of “Sweet Emotion” until the end of the night, there was no doubt who was on stage – one of the most energetic, most lively, and unique talents to ever hit popular music.
That’s not to say that Tyler wasn’t reverent toward his surroundings, ending his opening number with a tip of the hat to Johnny Horton’s 1959 hit “The Battle Of New Orleans.” He spoke glowingly of the town’s reception to him while writing and recording songs for the album, and even brought out The Grand Ole Opry Square Dancers before his performance of “Train Kept a’Rollin.” The iconic performer delivered a solid mix of material from the new album as well as his Aerosmith classics.
The crowd was responsive from the opening notes, and the songs kept flowing throughout the evening – with “Cryin,” “Jaded,” and “Walk This Way” keeping the capacity crowd singing lyric for lyric, note for note – and in some cases, dance move for dance move, as he held nothing back on stage.
Of the material from the current album, “Love Is Your Name” got a nice reception from the fans, as well as the moody “My Own Worst Enemy.” He combined Country and Rock well on the bouncy “Make My Own Sunshine,” and also scored with “Only Heaven,” which was co-written by Tyler with Rhett Akins and Chris DeStefano, and was also one of the highlights of the album.
Tyler also tipped his hat to the voices that influenced him with a version of “Come Together” that was long on both bravado and charm, and also took time to recall one of his first performances with Joe Perry.
The singer could have captivated the crowd simply by himself, but having all-star band Loving Mary behind him didn’t hurt. Comprised of longtime collaborator Marti Frederiksen, Suzie McNeil, Elisha Hoffman, Andrew Mactaggart and Sarah Tomek, the band was spot on with their instrumental and vocal work all night long. Also a member is highly respected Nashville veteran Rebecca Lynn Howard, whose lifting harmonies were a highlight of the night, particularly on their cover of “Take A Piece Of My Heart.” Tyler good-naturedly acknowledged Joplin as not just an influence vocally, but also from a fashion sense, (“All of this I stole from her,” he admitted to the audience).
It proved to be an unforgettable night at the Ryman, as the true magic was that Steven Tyler was trying to be nothing more…..than Steven Tyler. Fans knew what to expect, and they got exactly what they wanted. The epitome of a Rock and Roll icon, Tyler perhaps put it best when he talked about the role that sex and drugs play in Rock and Roll. “You never get a great story from someone eating a salad?…..You’ve got to take risks!” Now, that….just like the night of music he delivered….was Bad Ass. And, sometimes, that’s all you need to be!