MIAMI — They say rock 'n' roll will never die. Neither, apparently, will the careers of many rockers, at least to judge by the concert scene.
"I never thought I'd be around this long, much less playing these kind of shows,'' says Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, 58, amazed that he's still rocking stadiums more than 30 years after hits like Dream On and Walk This Way.
Acts like Fleetwood Mac and AC/DC filled the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise last winter, while Bruce Springsteen heads there on Sept. 13 and Leonard Cohen kicks off his U.S. tour there on Oct. 17.
Billy Joel sold out six nights at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, a haven for musical nostalgia where upcoming shows include Crosby, Stills and Nash Aug. 20 and the Allman Brothers Oct. 20.
West Palm Beach's enormous Cruzan Amphitheater will rock to '80s idols Def Leppard, Poison and Cheap Trick Aug. 13 and Motley Crue Aug. 27. And across the country, acts like Elton John, Bob Dylan and Bonnie Raitt (at Pompano Beach Amphitheater Sept. 23) continue to thrill audiences decades after they first made their mark.
How long can they rock on and on?
"For as long as people want to come and hear me play,'' says Perry, whose legendary hard-rock band has been touring this summer with blues-rockers ZZ Top. (Their July 13 concert at the BankAtlantic Center was postponed due to an injury to singer Steven Tyler; a new date has not been announced.)
In an era in which pop music seems geared toward tech-savvy, Internet-splintered young audiences, older acts remain a powerful onstage presence. According to Pollstar, which tracks the concert business, seven of the 10 bestselling U.S. tours last year were by acts that first hit in the '80s or earlier: Madonna, the Eagles, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Diamond, The Police and Tina Turner. So were all the top-grossing tours of the past 15 years.
Acts such as the Stones, Turner and Elton John may no longer get airplay except on oldies stations, but they came up in a less-crowded musical landscape that made universal hits easier to achieve and gave artists more opportunities to hone their musicianship and stage skills before hitting stardom.
``It's hard for good bands to become great bands when they can't really play for an audience,'' Perry says. ``We grew up in an era when `live' was what it was all about. And we're still there. We're transformed when we hit the stage. We're back in 1976.
``How do we keep it fresh? It's never gotten stale.''
Younger groups such as Coldplay and No Doubt, which filled Cruzan earlier this summer, and Green Day, which performs at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday, still fill major venues, but they emerge less frequently and disappear more quickly. Coldplay, Radiohead and the Dave Matthews Band are among the few contemporary bands music-industry professionals describe as having onstage staying power.
``Younger kids still love live music,'' says Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni. ``It's just the acts they're going to see don't seem to last anywhere near as long. . . . These older acts have honed their live performance skills. If you go see Springsteen, you're seeing a real professional. Today it's possible for a young live act to explode to almost world status, but they haven't had the experience to reproduce that live.''
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