REVIEW: Aerosmith – Rocks Donington 2014 (CD/DVD)

AEROSMITH – Rocks Donington 2014 (2015 Universal 2 CD/1 DVD set)

Aerosmith enter the stage as the sun at Donington makes its final descent.  Opening with the stalwart “Train Kept-A-Rollin'”, Steven Tyler leaps, covered by a traditional native headdress.  (Strangely nobody screamed “cultural appropriation!” in 2014.)  It’s off before he can start twirlin’ across the stage anyway.  Though desiccated, the band are cookin’ like a group 1/3 of their age.   Brad Whitford takes a welcome solo on “Train” and the band look happy to be up there.

Without missing a beat, Aerosmith travel forward in time two decades to “Eat the Rich”.  At first it sounds as if Tyler’s voice can’t hack it but then he’s right back in the game.  Nice to see Joe employing a whammy bar, but has the young crowd any idea what Grey Poupon is?  Tyler throws down a solid burp before the skippable “Love in an Elevator”.  His older, rougher voice gives it a tougher vibe but it’s overplayed radio filler now.

It’s a string of Geffen hits during this portion of the show.  “Cryin'”…interesting only because the band thought they had to play it for the millionth time.  “Jaded” has the stage bathed in purple but it’s Aero by the numbers.  Tyler spends the end of the song hanging out with some girls in the front row.  But when Joe Perry starts the growling drone of “Livin’ on the Edge”, things come back to life.  The song still has teeth.

The Geffen hits are interrupted by the legendary funk of “Last Child”, and then we see why this band is really special.  It’s not just Tyler and Perry, but it’s the sweet jam that the five of them make together when they really get down.  Brad Whitford is the captain of this particular ship, taking us to the green waters of Mt. Funk with Mr. Joey Kramer in the engine room.  Highlight of the show.

Aerosmith couldn’t have shown less enthusiasm for their newest album Music from Another Dimension.  “Freedom Fighter” with Joe Perry on lead vocals is the only new song presented.  Tyler’s not even on stage for it, but he’s back for “Same Old Song and Dance”.  Kramer’s absolutely the backbone, with his pal Tom Hamilton on bass.  That necessary piano part is provided by Buck Johnson near the back of the stage.  But they just can’t keep playing oldies without giving the kids a hit, it seems.  “Janie’s Got a Gun” is overdue to be retired.  It’s not the band, who are at 110%, it’s just the song and the years.

“Toys in the Attic” is like a sudden wake-up!  Second best tune of the night and no small thanks to Tommy and Joey on rhythm.  Unfortunately all this momentum is spent by playing “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, which should be buried and never resuscitated.  But what do we know, Doningon goes absolutely nuclear for the movie hit ballad.  Fortunately, Steven’s favourite Aerosmith song, “No More No More” is just what we needed to keep the train a-rollin’.  You just have to listen to the guys play and interact with each other to appreciate what makes ’em special, but it’s trippy seeing a big passenger jet landing in the middle of the song.

“Come Together” belongs to Aerosmith as much as it belongs to the Beatles now.  Their version is their own jam.  Unfortunately this perfect moment is ruined by the robotic “Dude Likes Like a Lady”.  Moving on to “Walk This Way”, an oldie but surely just as familiar.  It’s certainly just as cool, especially when Tyler starts playing loose with the words.

The first encore is also the only serious deep cut of the night, an abbreviated “Home Tonight”, followed by “Dream On”.  It’s kind of cheesy when Steven changes the words to “Cream on, cream until your jeans are blue.”  “Sweet Emotion” (with Tom bass solo) and “Mama Kin” complete the night, with the ravishing applause from a crowd of 80,000, breaking curfew to do it.

After a chant of “fuck curfew!” the band launch into “Mama Kin” with the energy of a first song instead of an after-hours closer.  And that’s the proof that there’s nothing wrong with Aerosmith aside from some question of how many hits you need to play vs. deep cuts.  The engine still motors ahead like they haven’t been through multiple splits and illnesses.  Long live Aerosmith!

The concert is well edited with excellent camera angles, relying on minimal slow-motion gimmicks.

3.5/5 stars

 

39 comments

      1. Oh, I know about this. It was actually the label who owned the song that sued. Then made Lennon put three songs that they owned on his covers album. Might be a good reason why that album isn’t that great, lol I don’t believe Berry got a penny from it. But in my opinion, they just lifted a line. You can tell Lennon felt bad about it though since he went on the Chuck Berry apology tour for a while. Meanwhile, not a peep from Paul, lol

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        1. I was thinking of figuring out which year it was but maybe another time!

          I gotta re-watch some of those videos. In the early days I wasn’t as good at it, but I think the later videos are pretty fun!

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        2. I hope so! We’ve been boosted and I understand symptoms are milder if you are boosted. But I just don’t want it at all! I don’t want to be sick or have life disrupted!

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        3. This is why I made sure the Train will be rolling tonight. We need it… again.

          I know I cannot go back to being live every single weekend again. But I’ll do what I can. It’ll be nice to chat with Tee Bone.

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        4. Not yet.

          You can buy the album on bandcamp right now! 9 tracks, 25 minutes, more like an EP. Tonight we’ll try to talk him into making CDs or vinyl.

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  1. I think this Donington show plays on the AXS channel on TV sometimes, but I never watched it yet. I might enjoy the show since I’m a casual listener of the band, but I can see how bigger fans of the band would be upset by the setlist. I love this line you said though: “It’s not just Tyler and Perry, but it’s the sweet jam that the five of them make together when they really get down.” On one of John’s Aerosmith reviews, I said that the band wouldn’t be the same without Joe and Steve, then John said it wouldn’t be the same without any of the band members. I didn’t know better since I haven’t really dug deep into the band yet.

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      1. When me and Tbone caught the Just Push Play Tour when the baby grand came out I knew where they were headed as I was headed for a piss during it..

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