Music Review: Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 (Blu-ray + 2-CD)

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The one and only time I was lucky enough to attend an Aerosmith concert, it was a rain-drenched affair for which I was stuck at the back of the general admission area (i.e. a big, soaked grass field). And it was still a killer rock show. But Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 offers one of those "almost better than being there" experiences. The band storms right out of the gates with "Train Kept A-Rollin'" and doesn't let up for an hour and 45 minutes. Eagle Vision's new release includes the concert on Blu-ray (also available on DVD) plus a two-disc live album of the show on CD. Aerosmith has too many big hits and classic album tracks to pack them all into one show, but a lot of them are here in an expertly-paced, 20-song set list.

Steven Tyler's voice is a thing of wonder, no hyperbole intended with that observation. The sad fact is most of the time when you hear people rave about any given classic rocker's voice being "as good as always," it's far from reality. It's easy to be fooled while your ears are being blasted by the immense decibel levels of your standard arena or stadium rock show. The proof usually lies in soundboard recordings, even with the various mixing tricks at a producer's disposal. Steven Tyler, I would argue, has truly only improved as a vocalist as he has aged. At 67, his voice has not only retained a remarkable amount of power, it has gained a great deal of nuance.

This show was taped at the Download Festival at Leicestershire, England's Donington Park on June 15, 2014 at the Stephen Sutton Main Stage. Aerosmith is in top form as they run through fan favorites including "Love in an Elevator," "Janie's Got a Gun," "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)," and their smoking hot cover of The Beatles' "Come Together" (first heard in the 1978 Bee Gees film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of that atrocities few redeeming qualities). Towards the end, they pull out the big guns with "Dream On" and "Sweet Emotion." No, it doesn't break any new ground but if you want to see and hear old pros doing what they do best, this is it.

The high definition 1080i Blu-ray presentation looks every bit as sharp as we'd expect from a recent live event. The real treat, however, is the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix that allows us to hear every searing lick from Joe Perry's guitar and feel each thump from Joey Kramer's drums. Great presentation all around.

No special features, but the live CD sounds excellent too, with a powerhouse mix that really boasts a suitably "live" feel (the title doesn't exaggerate: Aerosmith truly did rock the hell out of Donington). There's also a substantial liner notes booklet tucked into the quad-fold digipak. In addition to lots of photos from the Donington gig, Rolling Stone magazine's David Wild contributes an impassioned new essay. This is just a solidly produced set that Aerosmith fans will definitely want to add to the collections. Kudos to Universal Music Group and Eagle Rock Entertainment on a job well done.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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