DVD Review: AEROSMITH – Rock For The Rising Sun

Eagle Rock [Release date 22.06.13]

Much like the Stones who are 10 years their senior, Aerosmith pop up on this DVD like cartoon characters come to life. They rock and roll and charm their way round the post-tsunami Japan on their 2011 Back On the Road Tour, without really suggesting there is any hidden depth to be found under the surface of a hard driving rhythm & blues influenced hard rock band.

The DVD makes a case for their special relationship with Japan, and sure enough some huge crowds pay homage to a band that had the balls to tour Japan in the slipstream of the Japanese earthquake. But other than an interview with a super fan and a few meet and greets, there’s very little evidence of anything deeper than a tour band doing their stuff.

That being the case, director Casey Patrick Tebo’s film falls between two stools, as long time fans might have preferred a straightforward concert, and perhaps saved the back stage and tour snippets for the bonus disc. Truth be told, the film captures the best moments of the band in concert, but the sundry footage feels like filler material.

The band themselves also don’t really add much to what they do on stage. For example, when asked in an interview how the significant changes in the music business have affected them, Steven Tyler answers that the band likes writing songs, getting feedback and playing to big crowds all round the globe, without any real reference to the question.

The actual gig footage is much better and captures an essential dynamic. The director edits footage from Tokyo, Fukuoka and Osaka, with the latter drawing the biggest crowd.  Tyler extends his vocals early on with a wicked scream on ‘Draw The Line’, and connects with the crowd on the call and response ‘Love In An Elevator’. There’s also a clever segue from Perry and Tyler practicing their harmonies back-stage, to live footage of ‘Livin On The Edge’, which given the context, proves to be a poignant title.

The live footage switches to back and white for the bluesy ‘Hangman Jury’, while Brad Whitford and Joe Perry indulge themselves in a guitar dual on the ever popular ‘Mama Kin’. The subject matter of ‘Monkey On My Back’ is referenced by a snippet of Tyler at a Disney park and it feels almost as redundant as the Keith Richard drug stories from so long ago.

Bassist Tom Hamilton features on ‘Sweet Emotion’, which gives the hard rocking set some welcome light and shade, and ‘Rat In The Cellar’ is the kind of kick ass rock & roll that the audience would expect of the band.

The early career ‘Moving Out’ is even better, with Joe Perry in electrifying form, as the director nails the band’s hard rocking style with some slick camera work.

Tyler connects with the crowd with a comment that is the closest the band get to real emotion when he says; ‘we feel your pride, love and strength’, before slipping into the Brad Whitman showcase of the funky ‘Last Child’.

By the time of the rap rocker ‘Walk This Way,’ it’s ever more clear that the song saved them from hard rock oblivion, for in many respects Aerosmith are a blue collar, workman like band with one dimensional music, saved by the Toxic Twins  mixture of post Jagger showmanship and intense riffs.

Aerosmith do exactly what it says on the tin. They rock hard, keep the crowd involved and solo with intensity. In some respects they are what The Yardbirds might have been, had they hung on to Jeff Beck and reached arena status. It’s a suggestion further evidenced by the band’s raucous reading of ‘Train Kept A Rollin’ on the concluding bonus track.

Fans will also lap up the bonus ‘One Way Street’ which reconfirms Aerosmith’s latent blues credentials, while ‘Lick & Promise’ finds them closer to AC/DC. After all the shenanigans and hype, what fans really only care about is whether they can still cut it or not and the answer is a resounding affirmative.  *** (3/5)

Review by Pete Feenstra

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.

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