Film review: "Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014" at AMC Burbank 16, February 27.


Hey, I like this idea of previewing hard-music DVDs in movie theaters, but some stuff needs fixing.

I saw Iron Maiden's "Flight 666" at Hollywood & Highland in April 2009 (six weeks before its DVD release), and it slammed. Then Fathom Productions started specializing in the rock-films-in-theaters limited-release preview events. I didn't catch its screening of "God Bless Ozzy Osbourne" in 2013 (a month before it hit shelves), but I don't feel bad about that, because it wasn't a concert doc. Fathom should properly lube its axles for the next L.A. movie-palace exposure -- classic '70s Led Zeppelin footage -- on March 30.

The main stumbler for the Burbank presentation of "Aerosmith Rocks Donington" wasn't on the screen, it was from the speakers -- too f*cking quiet. This was a HARD ROCK show, fokes, and not only did the sound bang less than the "American Sniper" explosions in the adjacent multiplex cubicle, it banged less than "Spongebob 2," and probably less than Fathom's presentation of reactionary nutmouth Glenn Beck. Fathom coyly avoids calling its events DVD previews, figuring that fewer fans will motor out in the rain if they know they can blare it on their flat-screens for less money next month, but guess what: Although we know a home video's in the pipeline, we want to wallow in front of a REALLY BIG SCREEN with REALLY BIG SOUND. Which is why mutterings from the soiled, creaky, not-so-cheap seats persisted throughout, and why one slob kept yelling "Louder!" every 10 minutes. (Wait, that was me.) And it's why next time the cinema will be lucky to draw even the 50 patrons present last Friday.

Promoters: You've got to put these shows in theaters where you can turn them UP. Also, many cinemas now permit booze -- kind of an obvious consideration. The dudes on the screen may claim to be riding the temperance wagon these days, but don't kill the party for the rest of us; provide liquor, lighters and clean needles, and watch your profits soar.

The Aerosmith Donington movie itself is a winner. Rockers may prefer the harder-edged set list for the band's 2013 "Rock for the Rising Sun" DVD, but for this one the Smithsters kept duplications to a minimum and aimed for the poppier sector of their audience. Me, I don't object to "Eat the Rich," "Cryin'," "Jaded," "Janie's Got a Gun," "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing" or "Dude Looks Like a Lady," especially in live versions, and I'm glad to get brush-ups of oldies like "Same Old Song and Dance," "Come Together" and "Dream On" -- nine hits that weren't on "Rising." The Joe Perry spotlight "Freedom Fighter" (from 2013's spotty "Music From Another Dimension") has a good riff, even if we had to hear him sing lead.

Mainly, I dug the Donington jams, whatever damned songs they took off from, because they showed what Aerosmith truly is: five guys who make magic when they meet, and can stretch out without sounding like they're messing around.

Yeah, the editor was on meth, the same as they all are these days. Few watchers enjoy a cut every 1.5 seconds, but by now I'm used to it, though I would have preferred the opportunity to gaze at length into the lunar facial crevices of Perry and Steven Tyler -- at 66, by the way, Tyler sang strong and moved around with full confidence. The sound rang clean and balanced enough to make its lack of volume all the more pitiable, but you can bet your ass I'll remedy that in my billiards parlor when the vid comes out.

One thing the million cuts couldn't prevent me from noticing about Aerosmith: The light in their eyes has gone out, no doubt due to the absence of their souls, which they have sold for rock & roll. Does the lack of souls detract from their ability to rock like hell? Not a bit. That must have been part of the deal.