Although in the second half of my 30-year life my tastes have leaned heavily toward the likes of post-punk and indie pop, when it comes to concert movies and double live albums, the classic arena rockers whose sounds and images filled my childhood bedroom really do seem to have the market cornered. There’s just something about the way that The Stones or Alice Cooper or KISS (acts that I’m at least slightly embarrassed to have dedicated so much of my youth to) can compose a cinema-worthy live show or an extended live recording that I don’t think the shoegazers or garage rockers will ever quite achieve.
Well, my very favorite of all the megastars of hard rock (whose first four albums I still maintain are four of the greatest of all-time, in competition with the likes of The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian, and the Sex Pistols), Aerosmith, are set to release Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 this Friday, September 4th, courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment. And, while the release is something I’d most likely recommend for dads and uncles I know and isn’t something I’d name drop to former art school students or local fashion designers or the kind of people who frequent Johnny Brenda’s or Boot & Saddle, I will admit first, that I’m currently watching it for the eighth time this week and second, that it fucking rules!
Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 is available as a Blu-ray+2CD set, DVD+2CD set, or DVD+3LP set, in addition to digital formats and chronicles the brilliantly bluesy, undisputed gods of anthemic Rock’N’Roll during their June 2014 headlining set a the legendary Donington Park in Leicestershire, UK for the Download Festival. And like the last Aerosmith concert film released by Eagle Rock, Aerosmith: Rock for the Rising Sun, which dropped two years ago, this performance proves that not only do the not-exactly-in-their-prime rockers embody the best chops of all-time for filling out a Rock’N’Roll spectacle for the masses (The Black Keys and The Lion Kings, take note.), but that their backpockets still contain a large handful of the Rock’N’Roll badassery that made them perhaps the most poignant and potent forces in barrooms and ballrooms in the early 1970s, when they were competing on the same stages as recent history’s most ingenious sonic trailblazers, like Iggy and the Stooges, the New York Dolls, and the Velvet Underground.
And while Aerosmith’s set at Download didn’t feature quite as many “deep cuts” as a few of their recent tours (“Movin’ Out,” “Lick and a Promise,” “One Way Street.”), it does include Toys in the Attic’s brilliant “No More No More” and a teaser of “Home Tonight,” which is, let’s just face it, arguably the most impressive ballad they’ve ever written, in addition to longtime absent hits, like “Janie’s Got a Gun” and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).” Of course, the set was also doused with mega-charting smash’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “Walk This Way,” and “Sweet Emotion,” that true fans probably never need to hear again but, honestly, if those songs are the dull moments in a set, it’s still likely going to be one of the best sets you hear all year.
In addition to not pandering to just the most shallow of their fans, Aerosmith, still decked out in skintight leather, denim, vinyl, and animal prints, and donning the most beautifully decadent and gaudy scarves and “silver-wear,” are nearly as invasive, intimate, and intense as any of punk’s greatest bands, with the Demon of Screamin’ getting up-close and even orally intimate with fans in the massive, open-air setting, all while embodying a cool composure, charisma, and dance moves that could almost rival Dennis from Refused.