HOLMDEL, New Jersey — It all made perfect sense.
In a nutshell: In 1986, fading rockers Aerosmith hooked up with Run-DMC to make an updated version of the band’s “Walk This Way,” Aerosmith’s career was instantly revived, rap busted into the mainstream, and a teenage boy by the name of Bob Ritchie was paying close attention. Sixteen years later, the men who inspired a thousand rap-rockers have joined together for a tour, and brought along one of their disciples — that’d be Bob, a.k.a. Kid Rock — for the ride (Click here for photos ).
Run-DMC started things off in the 99-degree heat Tuesday at the PNC Bank Arts Center with a quick set that encompassed (at least portions of) their classic tracks, including “Mary, Mary” and “Jam-Master Jay.” Kid Rock rolled out onstage to perform “King of Rock” with the rappers, and then they all passed the mic around for Rock’s own “Bawitdaba.”
The Hollis, Queens, MCs bid the crowd farewell as four stars-and-stripes-bikini-clad go-go-girls emerged and a shirtless and gleaming Kid Rock commenced with his own set. A backdrop unfurled showing a painting of Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker Band, including his late hypeman Joe C. gripping a Coors 40. Joe made an audio appearance as well during the night: His rap on “Devil Without a Cause” blared out the speakers during Rock’s rendition of that track, accompanied by a giant backdrop of the three-foot-nine MC flipping the bird.
The pimp of the nation put his love of Southern rock and fellow Detroit rockers on full display — he performed a snippet of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” as a Confederate flag unrolled behind him, then he launched into Bob Seger’s “The Fire Down Below.”
Referencing the shorter-than-usual set time for him, Rock told the crowd he’d be doing a medley of sorts to pack in some of the material he wanted to showcase, which included the Sheryl Crow duet “Picture” (sans Crow), “Forever,” “Cocky” and “Wasting Time.”
As he is wont to do when performing live, Rock made the rounds and played everyone else’s instruments for a bit. He nudged Uncle Kracker away to do some deft scratching, churned out Deep Purple and ZZ Top riffs on Kenny Olson’s guitar while Olson was still strapped to his instrument, and pounded out some beats on Stefanie Eulinberg’s drumkit.
A guy who looked like one of the Blues Brothers then emerged onstage with a white fur. Rock crouched down and the guy tossed the fur on him, looking like he was trying to smother a fire. Rock held this position for a few moments, then tossed off the coat James Brown-style and continued parading around. Then he’d crouch again and the whole process repeated itself several times until Rock went into “Only God Knows Why.” He finished up with “Cowboy,” which included a piece of “The Dukes of Hazzard” theme.
Aerosmith were first visible in silhouette behind a white sheet. Quick drumbeats filled the venue, but the shadow of Joey Kramer could be seen faking, just robotically lifting an arm up and down, obviously not the purveyor of these rhythms. The curtain dropped and was carted off by several strong young men, revealing the band. Tyler sported a suspiciously disposable-looking white parachute jacket over his black clothes, and, sure enough, by the time the group finished its opening number, the ripping leadoff cut from 1989′s Pump, “Young Lust,” Tyler tossed the garment out into the crowd. And not long after, he thrust his crotch at the crowd for the first of many times that night.
Clearly having “rediscovered” Pump, the band immediately followed with the next cut off that album, “F.I.N.E.,” and later played other Pump rockers “Monkey on My Back” and “The Other Side.” In contrast, they played nothing from Nine Lives, their studio album before Just Push Play, and nothing from Rocks, considered to be one of the seminal albums of the band’s 30-year career.
They did, however, play plenty of ballads (though not “Dream On”), including “Crazy,” which incited a nine- or 10-year-old boy — who stood on an armrest while being supported by his dad — to passionately scream along while making grand, sweeping arm gestures in the air, much to the delight of those around him. The band also performed the “Armageddon” soundtrack cut “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” after screening the trailer for the flick in its entirety on the video screen, complete with Liv Tyler’s animal cracker scene.
There was an explanation for the trailer, though: During its airing, the band was making its return from a second stage set up by the cheap seats on the lawn. The guys had trekked out there to perform several cuts, including “Rag Doll” and “Mama Kin,” and while they were there, a caveman-quality black-and-white video of their performance showed on the main stage’s video screen.
After closing out their main set with “Cryin’,” which got some couples in the crowd to cozy up and start dirty dancing, and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” there was a long wait. Finally the guys returned for an encore — with Kid Rock and Run-DMC in tow — to perform, of course, “Walk This Way.” Rock, now wearing a shirt and holding a can of Pabst, shared vocal duties, and DMC sported a “Free Slick Rick” T-shirt for the song (see “Slick Rick Speaks From Prison: Deportation Would Be ‘Inhumane’ “ ). Tyler and Run-DMC reprised the dance they did together in the 1986 video for “Walk This Way” at the front of the stage, and the number ended with Run slapping his Stetson godfather hat on Tyler’s head.
After much hugging, Kid Rock and the rappers left the stage, leaving Aerosmith to run through “Love in an Elevator,” during which Tyler lifted a cloth flap that had been covering the split-open seat of his pants and showed everyone his crack pretty much in its entirety. They closed things out with “Train Kept a Rollin’,” and then silver and white confetti rained down on the crowd.
For a feature interview with Aerosmith, check out “Aerosmith: The ‘mtvICON’ Interviews.”
For a feature interview with Kid Rock, see “Kid Rock: Michigan Love.”
For a feature interview with Run-DMC, check out “Run-DMC: Kings Of Pain.”
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.