Plus, there has always been something captivating about the historic outdoor venue, so this was just not just a rock show but a major event, and you could tell both bands were feelin' it.
Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler, he of double-dipped fame that includes a stint on the exceedingly popular TV show "American Idol," had feathers in his hair and a strut in his step, and the 64-year-old was in fine voice, as the Boston band's two-hour set focused mainly on the old hits like "Same Old Song and Dance," "Rag Doll," "Sweet Emotion" and "Dream On.
With a ramp pushed out from center stage, Tyler preened and pranced his way to a stream of standing ovations. He and his band mates led by guitarist Joe Perry are millionaires many times over, of course, but that did not stop Aerosmith from putting in a sweaty, hard-working performance that was utterly over-the-top except for the fact a lot of MTV hits were left out like "Angel," "Janie's Got a Gun," "Jaded," "Cryin'," "Dude Looks Like a Lady" and "Crazy."
Then again, some oldies like "Back in the Saddle" and "Mama Kin" did not make the cut either. When you've got at least 30 recognizable songs, there is just no way you can play everything, especially when a lot of minutes are gobbled up for guitar solos and a drum solo that saw Joey Kramer use his not just sticks but his bare hands and even his head on a few beats.
The band supposedly does not get along -- Tyler and Perry took verbal swipes at each other in an ugly segment on "60 Minutes" not long ago -- but there were glittery smiles to go around on Monday, and the massive crowd featuring more women than men constantly roared their approval.
The best moments came toward the end. "Come Together" brought chills, as the delivery and power were so right-on that the little hairs on the back of our necks stood up.
It would have been nice to see Aerosmith's faces, but the venue's big video screens were ignored, so for most of us in the back, both bands looked like tiny dots adored with shiny clothes.
Cheap Trick opened, and not surprisingly the foursome gave Aerosmith a run for its money. With only about 10 songs being able to fit into the set, the classic-rock icons from Illinois stuck to the big hits, and every one of them went over well -- from "California Man" to "Ain't That a Shame" (featuring Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford joining in) to "On Top of the World" to "The Flame" to "I Want You to Want Me" to "Surrender.
It was one of those performances where you were afraid to look away because you might miss something spectacular.
It took a few minutes for Cheap Trick to find the right sound mix and for singer Robin Zander to fully warm up, but once the band found its groove there was no stopping 'em. Zany guitarist Rick Nielsen was bouncing around, tossing an endless stream of guitar picks into the crowd, and his son, Daxx, was doing a fine job on the drums in place of Bun E. Carlos.
In all, a very memorable night of rock and roll. Cheap Trick called itself the "best band in the world," and Aerosmith called itself the "greatest band in the world," and with the volume pumping on 10, who were we to argue?