In March 2011, Japan was devastated by the effects of a massive earthquake and tsunami. To make matters worse, the Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered a meltdown. Tourists were advised to stay away for their own safety, but Aerosmith, never ones to follow the rules, had other ideas. The band had maintained a close relationship with its Japanese fans over the years and, against conventional wisdom, decided to help the country heal through their music, staging a series of concerts later that year. The shows were filmed and form the basis of the new Blu-ray, Aerosmith -- Rock For The Rising Sun.
Directed by Casey Patrick Tebo, the film mixes interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of the band with live performances. We see interviews with Nobu Tanaka, a Japanese fan who has seen the band more than 150 times, as well as footage of the band visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. There are also interviews with all of the band's members. The focus of the disc though is the music, of course, and here we see killer backstage rehearsal footage of Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and touring keyboardist Russ Irwin working up the seldom-played "Hangman Jury." Sadly, after the first verse of the backstage footage, the song cuts to the full-band version from that point on instead of giving the entire track. This is one of the few beefs to be had with this disc is that a few of the songs are not quite complete. Most, however, are and they are great performances.
The performance footage leads off with "Draw The Line," the title track from their classic 1977 LP. The band offers a gritty version with some killer slide work from Perry. No songs from post 1993 are featured in the performances, but we are treated to killer renditions of "Monkey on My Back" from 1989's Pump as well as an eerie "Boogie Man," another seldom-played number. Most of the disc is reserved for 1970s gems such as the blistering "Toys In The Attic" and "Rats In The Cellar," the gritty "Movin' Out" and the funky "Last Child" and "Walk This Way." Tyler seems to have found the fountain of youth, hitting notes many singers one third his age would have difficulty with.
The Blu-ray is presented in 1080i High Definition Widescreen 16x9 (1.78:1). Audio options include DTS HD Master Audio and LPCM Stereo. The picture and sound are top notch throughout with an excellent audio mix worthy of these fine performances.
As the disc is done as a sort of travel log, the footage isn't from one complete show. It's mildly jarring to see the band in different outfits for each song, but separating the tracks with interviews and tourist footage helps to make this less obvious. What is obvious is how hard this band rocks when they put their minds to it. Stripped of most of the band's power ballads, Rock For The Rising Sun, shows Aerosmith at its most primal. The fans in Japan love Aerosmith and, as these performances show, the band loves Japan.