By Barry Gilbert
St. Louis Post-Dispatch


October 17, 2006

Spinal Tap turned their amps up to 11. On Sunday night, Aerosmith and Mötley Crüe hit 12 and beyond as their Route of All Evil Tour stopped at UMB Bank Pavilion.

Although Aerosmith was the headliner, the evening was split as evenly as it could be. Each band cranked out a baker's dozen worth of tunes over sets lasting about 75 minutes that were considerably shorter than if each had been touring solo. But when the smoke cleared "" literally "" the fans were the winners.

Boston-based Aerosmith dealt with the shorter set by reverting to 1973 form: a blues-based boogie band with a couple of layers of glam spread over the top. Gone from the set list were late-'80s, early-'90s hits such as "Love in an Elevator," "Janie's Got a Gun" and "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)."

Even the power ballads that kept the band on top during the MTV years were kept to a minimum: "Crying" and the granddaddy of all power ballads, the still exciting "Dream On."

Instead, singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry led the band through the blues of Rufus Thomas' "Walkin' the Dog," Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go" and Fleetwood Mac's "Stop Messin' Around," each one crackling with the guitars of Perry and Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer's solid drumming and Tyler's manic, perpetual-motion showmanship.

But they didn't ignore the hits, treating a boisterous crowd to "Toys in the Attic," "Sweet Emotion" and the encore of "Walk This Way."

Tyler and Perry, their hair, scarves and coats flying about their middle-age but still skinny frames, were the focus, stalking the stage and taking it down a runway a dozen rows into the audience. Tyler, dragging his trademark microphone stand, added some nice touches on harmonica, and was vocally in charge despite a few off-key moments.

Aerosmith was abetted by the tasty keyboard and vocal work of Russ Irwin, and by bassist David Hull, filling in for Tom Hamilton, who is battling throat cancer. High-resolution video, laser lighting, local film shot at the Arch and at Busch Stadium, and other multimedia wizardry added to the excitement of the show, but they are gimmicks this band really doesn't need.

Veteran headbanger act Mötley Crüe delivered its sledgehammer rock amid explosions, balls of fire, women dancing in cages, devilish imagery, black leather and, oh yes, a choreographed chicken “sacrifice.” The band’s adoring fans, many of whom could not have been alive when “Live Wire” kicked off its first album in 1981, applauded every pose.

Singer Vince Neil struggled at times to be heard above the all-out attack of bassist Nikki Sixx, guitarist Mick Mars and human tabloid Tommy Lee - and let's give Lee some well-deserved respect as a drummer. But the band hit its stride midset with "Same Old Situation" and thundered home behind hits including "Louder Than Hell," "Sick Love Song," "Primal Scream" and "Girls, Girls, Girls."