I have exactly mic equipment that you describe. I have the Aiwa mic that came with my Aiwa MS-J470 cassette walkman/recorder (had that for years - I wore it out I played it so much) and the Radio Shack volume control you mention. I tried using the Aiwa cassette to record live concerts and got nothing but distortion of course. Should have had the volume control when I tried it. I haven't had a chance to use the volume control at a live show but I've been working with the mic, the volume control, my Sony MZ-R70 and my home stereo (running 450 watts per channel so it plays pretty LOUD . I also have the Sony ECM MS-907 mic.
Here's what I notice. The Aiwa just doesn't compare with the Sony when it comes to sound quality though it isn't bad either. There's definetely more response in the lower ranges. I'd like to see a response curve on the Aiwa mic. I suspect it goes far lower than the Sony. But of course response curves can be misleading. Just because it doesn't respond up to the specified db level at below 100 Hz it doesn't mean it has no response at all. The Sony does pick up sounds below that range but they are definitely somewhat lower than they should be. I suspect the Sony might keep me from getting the brick wall effect from too much low frequency response because it doesn't respond as well below 100 Hz. I haven't actually seen this work yet though.
It's also true that the Sony picks up much more background noise than the Aiwa. That could be bad in a noisy enviorment where either crowd noise or moving air could make for a very noisy recording.
I intend to take both mics with me when I try to record anything live. I've been asked to record a local bluegrass band to see how well it comes out so I expect to get some results soon. I'm thinking about getting a battery box with a pre-amp so I can use both mics at once (one with my new Sony N505).
I guess I'll have more to say later about what works best.