We have an exclusive sneak peek at the complete liner notes for Aerosmith's upcoming concert DVD, Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014. David Wild, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and self-proclaimed "Aerosmith fan since puberty," writes about the show, its standout performances and the group's legacy.

Aerosmith ROCKS.
 Fans of the band all around our world hold this eternal truth to be self-evident. And make no mistake, when we say Aerosmith ROCKS, we are not simply name-dropping Aerosmith’s classic 1975 album Rocks – though that enduring masterpiece surely does remain one of the most defining and most outstanding recordings in rock history. Instead, when we say today that Aerosmith ROCKS, we are declaring loud and clear that this extraordinary band – now, as in the beginning, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer – thoroughly rocks our world as arguably our greatest live rock group here and now.

Just one good look and listen to Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 proves this point, and it does so with the same kind of power and overwhelming passion that has always remained at the very heart of the live Aerosmith experience. For all the road traveled thus far by Aerosmith – all the very high highs and yes, the exceedingly low lows too – let there be absolutely no doubt that what we are seeing and hearing here is one truly great rock band firing on all cylinders at Donington Park, right from those driving opening chords of “Train Kept A Rollin” – a song that Aerosmith has been playing literally since before it even was Aerosmith and helped turned into a hard rock standard – all the way through the final and fantastically primal encore of “Mama Kin,” the first single from Aerosmith’s first-ever album, and a song that remains a touchstone for the band. In-between are hits and classics from every chapter of the band’s incredible and at times unlikely success story. The result is simply inspired rock & roll played out with heart and soul on the grandest of global stages.

So, whether you were fortunate enough to be there among the crowds at Donington Park that gloriously atmospheric night in 2014 – or more likely, if you are just lucky enough to catching up after the fact today – there is only one appropriate shared reaction to what you are seeing and hearing here: genuine rock & roll shock and awe that, despite everything, these rock & roll heroes never lost their way, or at least always found their way back to the music together. By any standard, Aerosmith is not a rock group with a lot left to prove, having sold over 150 million albums worldwide, having won every award from Grammys to MTV Music Video Awards and even a Soul Train Award, and having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Yet the wonderfully open secret to Aerosmith’s stunning endurance is their powerful and sometimes volatile musical chemistry ensures that as individuals and as a band they adamantly refuse to rest on any of their laurels. That’s because Aerosmith became rock icons the old fashioned way: They earned it, night after night, decade after decade, during thousands of shows in front of audiences worldwide. And they still earn it every night, right here in our present tense.


Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 artfully and forever captures a memorable moment in time during one of the greatest rock & roll stories ever told. Here then are the sights and sounds of Aerosmith headlining the massive Download Festival at Donington Park, a site where the band last played in 1990 at the Monsters of Rock Festival when they were famously joined by one of their biggest influences, Jimmy Page. This time around, there are no special guests – only the pure, uncut thrill of rock’s most enduring unit rocking the Motherland and proving they remain as Boston Strong as ever. There are some groups that are better in intimate venues, who don’t have the sound or personality to stake their claim to wide-open spaces. Musically and otherwise, Aerosmith knows exactly how to go big or go home, and Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 finds Steven Tyler and Joe Perry making the kind of grand rock & roll entrance that befits their high standing in rock history, and earning their place in the headlining spotlight with every riff and every word.

Now just a few words about the individual players in this magnificent rock & roll drama and occasional human comedy:

Has any frontman ever stayed as deeply connected to the true spirit of rock & roll than Steven Tyler? The man’s muse does just not seem to contain an off-switch, and somehow he continues to have more energy onstage now than ever before. As if I really had to twist your arm to do so, take a good look at Tyler on fire here throughout Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014, a rock & roll animal howling at the moon, fashionably dressed for excess and looking like a devilishly charming pirate who’s more than ready to download all he has to offer to anyone with the good taste to come to Aerosmith’s rock & roll circus. What even more impressive than his prowess as a tireless showman is the fact that Tyler’s voice remains a tremendous force of nature capable of delivering everything in the set list – from a towering anthem like “Livin’ on the Edge” to the hard rock funk of “Last Child” to an epic ballad like “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” to one of his own personal Aerosmith favorites, “No More, No More,” originally from Toys in the Attic. Watching Tyler strut, shake, run and most of all sing his ass off is inspirational, and a cool exhibition of the American “Can Do” spirit with which to impresses a park full of screaming Brits welcoming America’s great rock band home as if they were one of their own.

The eternally cool Joe Perry, on the other hand, was, is and always will be the rock solid foundation upon which so many of Aerosmith’s greatest rock & roll triumphs have been built. Yes, Joe Perry remains a true guitar hero who’s delivered some of the most thrilling and iconic guitar solos in all of rock history. Yet the man is not simply one of our all-time greatest guitarists – a fact duly noted by Rolling Stone magazine, among countless other music and guitar publications. Indeed, Perry has also more than earned his place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame along with Steven Tyler, further validation of their shared place as one of rock’s most respected songwriting teams ever. Often Perry has come across as a rock god of few words, the classic strong but sometimes-silent rock & roll type. Yet this recent New York Times best-selling author for his moving memoir entitled – what else? – Rocks seems increasingly comfortable these days taking his rightful place in the red-hot spotlight. Indeed during Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014, Perry takes a memorable turn in the spotlight singing and playing the blazing rocker “Freedom Fighter,” one of two tracks from the band’s 2012 album Music From Another Dimension that found Perry singing lead. It’s a vivid reminder that Perry has always been one of rock & roll most compelling characters, albeit often a more mysterious and badass one than his more strutting musical partner in crime. Elsewhere on Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014, we see Perry characteristically on fire in his more traditional role as the ultimate guitar-slinging equal to Tyler, such as when the two work the walkway as they bash out a fantastically furious rendition of the timeless “Toys in the Attic.”

Watch Aerosmith Perform 'Mama Kin' at Donington

Yet the record – and for that matter, the records – clearly shows that Aerosmith is and always has been a true rock & roll band in which every member brings something crucial and significant to one of rock’s longest lasting and most consistently exciting parties. As all true fans of the group know, Aerosmith is and always has been very much a band – and a genuinely great one in at that in which five guys combined their forces to create something much bigger than any one of them.

Among many other virtues, Aerosmith is arguably the most soulful bands in rock history, and a lot of the credit for that goes to powerhouse yet funky drummer Joey Kramer whose playing has always revealed his roots playing early on in an R&B show band with the Unique Four that eventually became better known as Tavares. Kramer’s strong sense of feel – locked in perfectly with bassist Tom Hamilton – provided Aerosmith with a solid foundation that keeps the band pumping. How key is Kramer to Aerosmith’s illustrious history? Well, for starters, Kramer is the man credited with giving the band its eternally cool name, and ever since for somehow keeping Aerosmith rhythmically thrilling, decade after decade. Beyond being such a driving force, Kramer has also contributed to the band’s as a co-writer, from “Pandora’s Box” on 1974’s Get Your Wings to fan favorite “Kings and Queens” on 1977’s Draw the Line to four more songs on the band’s latest studio album, 2012’s Music From Another Dimension.

Tom Hamilton is much more than simply half of one of hard rock’s best and most versatile rhythm sections – one that always keeps things locked down at the bottom with amazing grit and grace. Hamilton has also been a significant, witty and stabilizing force throughout Aerosmith’s entire history – a quality that he would get to make extraordinary use of over the years. Let it also be noted too that Tom Hamilton is not just a fine musician. He has also co-written a few of the most beloved Aerosmith classics featured on Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014, namely “Sweet Emotion” and “Janie’s Got A Gun,” as well as a number of other fan favorites like “Sick As A Dog” from Rocks and one of this writer’s favorite Aerosmith songs ever – “Kings and Queens” from Draw the Line.

Last but definitely not least, there is Aerosmith’s other resident guitar god Brad Whitford, perhaps the group’s most effective secret musical weapon. Whitford is known as Aerosmith’s band’s rhythm guitarist, but it truth he’s played many brilliant lead parts over the years too. Indeed, Whitford recently demonstrated his axe genius when he was featured on the all-star Experience Hendrix tour celebrating Jimi Hendrix. Whitford has also made crucial contributions to the band’s rocking songbook, such as co-writing the group’s timeless “Last Child” – which he played lead on – as well as “Nobody's Fault” and “Round And Round.” Time and time again, Whitford has shown himself to be the absolute perfect guitar slinger to partner with Joe Perry – a more trained axe ace who has done so much to allow Aerosmith to consistently sound like a massive guitar army, and even better yet, one that always wins.


Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 is much more that just a great gig. It is a lasting document of the powerful and explosive bond that these five men have made with each other and with fans of rock & roll everywhere. You can see it here in all its attitude and talent-drenched beauty. After ending the set with “Walk This Way,” and it’s unforgettable funk riff by Joe Perry that was a classic way before Run-D.M.C. joined in the fun and made it even bigger, Aerosmith returns to encore with their first smash “Dream On,” “Sweet Emotion” and – after Tyler leads the crowd in a memorable chant of “F– CURFEW!” – finally the fireworks of “Mama Kin.” It’s all one more vivid reminder that, for Aerosmith, no show is just the “Same Old Song and Dance,” but the sort of true once-in-a-lifetime rock & roll experience to treasure and remember forever.

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