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'Aerosmith Rocks' to play at local theaters

Patrick Dunn
Special to The Detroit News

Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton says he always enjoys playing England's legendary Donington Park, but the odor may not be for everyone.

"The audience gets a particular aroma between the mud and the people who just felt it was too far to go to the porta-cans or whatever," Hamilton says. "It's great. Oh, my God, it smells like being on a farm."

Aerosmith fans will be able to experience the hard-rock hitmakers' recent Donington set — but skip the stink — with the new concert film "Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014," which will screen in select movie theaters one night only this Thursday. Although Donington has hosted numerous rock and metal shows since the '80s, Aerosmith's most recent performance at the venue was to headline a stage at last year's Download Festival.

"Just to be invited to play Donington has always been special," says Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford. "It just has a magic about it. We're excited just to be there."

Hamilton says the band has been recording shows "constantly" for the past 20 years, but he was particularly pleased with the way the Donington set turned out.

"The band was so tight that night, yet we could relax and just have fun and get off on an insane crowd there," he says.

Both Hamilton and Whitford seem pleased — even somewhat surprised — to have maintained a successful career over four decades after Aerosmith got its start. Despite the band's image as a bunch of party rockers, Hamilton credits much of that success to the group's sobriety. He says Aerosmith "fell apart" in the late '70s largely due to the influence of drugs, but came back together thanks to its manager encouraging the musicians to sober up.

"It was kind of an intense situation, but it really was a major part of the band having a resurgence," Hamilton says.

Looking back to Aerosmith's earliest days in the '70s, Whitford still seems amazed at how far the group has come. He says he never could have imagined "still being out there and being an important musical act" at this stage in his life.

"In those days we were living day to day, so there was a lot of huge moments for us back then — the first time we heard ourselves on the radio and stuff," he says. "But to imagine hearing yourself on the radio 10 years later or 15 years later or 20 years later, it's not even a thought."

Aerosmith hasn't recorded since 2012's "Music From Another Dimension!" and Hamilton and Whitford say the band has no immediate plans to go back into the studio. Instead they're more than happy to keep playing the hits that make fans happy, at Donington and beyond.

"All of these songs, you know, you can play them one of two ways: you can either play them good, or you can play them really good," Hamilton says before appending a third option. "Or you can play them bad. I think you just try as hard as you can to play that song the best you've ever played it. That's kind of the mindset."

Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.

Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014

7 p.m. Thursday

AMC Forum 30

44681 Mound,

Sterling Heights

586) 254-1381

AMC Livonia 20

19500 Haggerty, Livonia

(734) 542-3191

Ann Arbor 20 + IMAX

4100 Carpenter, Ypsilanti

(734) 973-8424

United Artists Commerce Township Stadium 14

3033 Springvale,

Walled Lake

(248) 960-7459

Tickets $12-$15