Rocks Donington 2014 (CD/DVD)


Eagle Vision, 2015

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


A few years back, R.E.M. released two live albums. One was a standard concert that presented the songs fans expected to hear, with few surprises and not much that was necessary. The other, Live At The Olympia, presented pretty much nothing but album tracks and non-album songs from the band's first decade of existence, played with an energy and verve missing from the more populist disc.

I would love to see something like that from Aerosmith. God knows we've heard live versions of their greatest hits before, from the Live Bootleg collection to both Classics Live to A Little South Of Sanity to Rockin' The Joint. Like those latter two, this double disc set runs through pretty much every Aerosmith hit from their existence, with only one song from the recent Music From Another Dimension! and two non-hit album cuts making an appearance.

As is expected from a band in their 42nd year of performing, the show is loud, tight, energetic and professional. These guys have been playing "Dream On," "Walk This Way," "Sweet Emotion" and the like for years, so there are no surprises at all except in how well they can still pull it off. Pandering To fans of all ages, the guys include a bunch of ballads in "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing," "Jaded," and "Cryin'," and they're no better live than they were clogging up the radio. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Because the older material was looser, drunker and more boogie-inflected, it leaves a lot more room for riffing and improv, and so the quintet lets loose on an expanded "Same Old Song And Dance," a particularly rollicking "Toys In The Attic" and the album cut "No More No More." I never particularly cared for this band's take on the Beatles' "Come Together," but live it sounds better than the raspy studio version, and it's a treat to hear the snippet of the Rocks deep cut "Home Tonight" and how it segues into "Dream On," which Tyler still sings with the panache and pipes of his youth but with far more soul now that he is older. I know rock radio overplays the song. I don't care. It's a great song.

The show ends with an expanded "Sweet Emotion" and "Mama Kin," punctuated by Tyler's exhortations to the crowd to shout "Fuck curfew," and if that sounds a little calculated coming from a guy who hosted American Idol for a season, what are you gonna do? He's a showman, a fact thrown into relief on the accompanying DVD. Shot in sharp high-def, with loving closeups of all the band members, it's a fine concert document with attitude and intensity throughout. The biggest surprise is Perry's solo "Freedom Fighter," showing that he has just as much charm on stage as Tyler but is far more grounded, and that he deserved more time in the spotlight than his solo career gave him. Props also to the large festival crowd, which is packed in and obviously knows the words to these longtime hits.

Donington Rocks is about as necessary as A Little South Of Sanity or even Rockin' The Joint – if you have one of these three, you're pretty much set – but as this one comes with a DVD and crosses the band's entire career with next to no emphasis on anything after 1993, it's probably recommended for older fans or those who would like a loud, raucous concert show to revisit this classic band.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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