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Aerosmith - Rockin' the Joint: Live at the Hard Rock Print E-mail
Tuesday, 25 October 2005


Live at the Hard Rock
format: DualDisc
label: Columbia Records
release year: 2006
performance: 7.5
sound: 6
reviewed by: Jerry Del Colliano

Image There might be no better place to party in Las Vegas than Peter Morton’s Hard Rock Hotel. Despite all of the real estate boom and all of the new bling palaces on the strip and off, the Hard Rock Hotel is the one casino-hotel that understands the principles of old Vegas – the Vegas of the Rat Pack dealing blackjack at the Sands after a show. With hip music blasting and smiles on everyone’s faces (from the staff to the gamblers getting beaten senseless at the tables), the Hard Rock is a party day and night. But the normal festive energy is nothing compared to what can be seen on special nights at the Hard Rock. One of these nights was January 11, 2002 when legendary rock group Aerosmith plugged in at the Joint, the smaller-than-a-stadium venue inside the smaller-than-a-regular-casino hotel. Much like a fight night, fans of the band and the lucky few with tickets knew they were in for a treat. That show is now available to those who didn’t have a ticket or weren’t even there, on a stereo DualDisc release.
Aerosmith has had somewhat of a schizophrenic career, over an impressively long time frame. Most of us remember the band as one of the quintessential hard rock bands of the 1970s, with hits like “Dream On,” “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way.” After fizzling from the rock scene in a drug-induced stupor, Aerosmith was able to amazingly climb back into the ranks of the most elite popular rock bands in the late 1980s with MTV hits like “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” “Love In an Elevator” and “Janie’s Got A Gun.” What might be the band’s most impressive reinvention is the way they have been able to create syrupy sweet ballads that have caught the fancy of the Generation Y crowd – ironically, older than many of the children of the band members. Aerosmith Live at the Hard Rock covers most of their musical bases, with a specific emphasis on their older music.

On the CD side of the DualDisc there are a few performances of note, including “Same Old Song and Dance” which highlights a live but well-layered sound. The band has a nasty, bluesy flavor that is easy to dig on. The mix unquestionably highlights the stars of the band: front man Steven Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry. Overall the live show includes keyboards, horns, guitars and lots of instrumental layering that makes Live at the Hard Rock a compelling spin in your CD player for dozens of times.

Despite the band’s collective age, On “No More No More” they show their ability to rock out some very impressive vocal harmonies in an upbeat bluesy-rock presentation. “Draw The Line” features a really hard hitting riff and a catchy hook that allows you to imagine just how much fun was being had at the show.

“Big Ten Inch Record” could be considered a novelty song by some musical historians but the band put an extra kick into its presentation that night, specifically guitarist Joe Perry. The boogie woogie groove is cranked up a bit in terms of tempo, with a few tricky syncopated moves that show the careful listener just how good a band Aerosmith is. “Walk This Way” is about as good as it gets on Live at the Hard Rock. One of the band’s most famous songs is a cakewalk for these savvy veterans who leave little on the table in terms of musical chops or on-stage enthusiasm. The mix for the solo (which I am guessing was Brad Whittford, not Joe Perry) was unfortunately too far back in the mix, but that live audio hiccup wasn’t enough to extinguish the fire of the track.

The DVD side of the DualDisc has excellent audio performance thanks to what is likely 20-bit 48-kHz audio. I was not able to test the actual resolution on my Meridian 800 DVD player at the time of the review, but most other DVD layer audio tracks on DualDisc have been released at this resolution. It sounds incrementally better on moderate to good audio playback systems but is not the audio improvement you would expect from a 24-bit 192-kHz recording. There are four additional live performances on the DVD side, including classics such as “Dream On” and “Sweet Emotion.”

For the high resolution audio fan Aerosmith Live at the Hard Rock is a score. It is a high-energy performance recorded at better than Compact Disc quality. The missing surround sound mix? – can only be greeted with a big question mark.

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