Perhaps nothing illustrates the sagging fortunes of a rock band more graphically than the sight of a huge arena that's less than half full at showtime.

That was the scene at the Capital Centre last night, where Aerosmith, one of the kingpins of mid-'70s hard rock, performed for about 6,000 people.

But say what you will about these musicians: As unoriginal, unimaginative and increasingly unfashionable as they are--and they are all of these things--they still set out to rock an audience, no matter what its size.

The band opened with "Back in the Saddle Again," which found vocalist Steve Tyler straddling the microphone and riding it like a hobby horse across the stage. Even though Tyler continues to wear Mick Jagger hand-me-downs, and many of his stage antics are similarly affected, his harsh, high-pitched voice still is powerful enough to carry the band's most guitar-laden anthems. Except for the blues number "Reefer-Headed Woman" and a particularly strong version of "Dream On," Tyler wisely avoided the band's ballads in favor of more raucous material. On most of these tunes, guitarist Jimmy Crespo and drummer Joey Kramer provided him with all the momentum necessary.

Opening the show was Kix, a group of hard rockers from Hagerstown, which successfully primed the crowd for what was to follow.