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Music Review

Aerosmith, Dropkick Murphys raise heat in Mansfield

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By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / June 17, 2009
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MANSFIELD - Fire, cancer, pneumonia, knee replacements, drug addiction, hepatitis, and whatever undisclosed surgery guitarist Brad Whitford is currently recovering from. Aerosmith is clearly unstoppable.

That was certainly the case last night at the Comcast Center as the beloved Boston hard rockers steamrolled through a hot and tight set that spanned the quintet’s 36-year catalog. From opener “Train Kept a Rollin’ ’’ to closer “Come Together,’’ the jammed amphitheatre, with plenty of multigenerational groups spotted, sang along and hoisted lighters with regularity.

While the train no longer rolls all night long - it returns to the depot after a fittingly locomotive but concise 90 minute excursion - it’s firmly on the tracks. The guitar heroics from Joe Perry and Whitford sub Bobby Schneck were sizzling, the rhythm section of Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton thunderous, Russ Irwin remains an unsung hero on keyboards and harmonies, and Steven Tyler’s wide-mouth wail was soaked in its trademark blend of raunch and fire.

Following a six-song starter that included vintage and newer tracks - power ballad “Dream On,’’ the deep cut Perry spotlight “Combination,’’ salacious bump-and-grind “Love in an Elevator’’ - the band dove into its 1975 album “Toys in the Attic,’’ which it is performing from front to almost-back this tour. (They’ve been skipping the final track.)

The album is a great choice not only for the hits it presents - including spirited takes on “Walk This Way’’ and “Sweet Emotion’’ - but because it represents just about everything the band does well. It has the bawdy blooze of “Big Ten Inch Record,’’ the sunny pop melodics of “Uncle Salty,’’ the luscious harmonies of “No More, No More,’’ and the satisfying Zeppelin-esque stomp and snarl of “Round and Round,’’ a true rarity and real highlight last night.

Tyler, rocking in a ridiculous and amazing silver coat with a huge crucifix on the back and, at the start, a matching feathered pimp hat, was his irrepressible self with his persona and his smoking harmonica solos. He finally appears to have lost a step as his flamboyant gallop has powered down to more of a peacock strut. Perry, somehow making puffy shirts macho, was as lively as he’s been in a long time bombing around the stage thanks to healthy knees.

The band returned for an amusingly ramshackle attempt at “Dirty Water’’ with openers the Dropkick Murphys.

The Murphys acquitted themselves nicely in what felt like a surprisingly uphill battle. But the band’s endearing maelstrom of tin whistles, mandolins, bagpipes, banjos, and punk-rock fundamentals slowly won the crowd over. By the time they lit into an inventive cover of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley’’ and trotted out the Boston College marching band for “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,’’ the crowd was on its feet.

Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com.

Aerosmith with the Dropkick Murphys last night at the Comcast Center

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