Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rolling Stones Shine a Light

Since I am still the biggest Rolling Stones fan I know, I was a sucker for this concert film. It did not matter that it had the added draw of Martin Scorsese direction, but I figured that would be a nice touch.
I was right. The concert movie as a genre has all but vanished from cinema, and that may have been what attracted a name as big as Scorsese. His attention to detail is apparent throughout, not just with technical prowess, but with his choice of footage. You feel like you are seeing everything there was to see, and thanks to the director, you get a sense of what these two shows were like for the Stones and crew.

I got to see the Stones live in 1989, and although I was not disappointed with that show, I came away with a sense of the Stones trying to stay young before the world, and not really pulling it off. There is none of that on Shine a Light.

Songs included in the film include nothing newer than 1983 (set list below) But, it was not full of played out radio standards. The shows (two nights at the Beacon Theatre in 2006) don't rely on fancy props or laser lights--no smoke and mirrors, literally or figuratively. You get the Stones, doing what they love, what their fans wanted to hear.

Which is not to say they don't throw in any spice or variety. You get White Stripes/Raconteurs front man Jack White doing 'Loving Cup' with Mick...with White slyly grinning and looking Mick in the eye on the line, "Well I'm stumblin'/And I know I play a bad guitar", in addition to doing a damn good young Mick voice in the first couple verses.

Then there is Buddy Guy fronting the band on Muddy Waters 'Champagne and Reefer', a combined of blues homage and reference to the young Stones rock star reputation.

Christina Aguilera slinks onstage for a duet on Live With Me, and simultaneously sexes up the stage and keeps the fans' musical palate refreshed.

The Stones have a bunch of songs they have played a million times, but they left just about all of those in the stable for these shows. I especially loved that the set list draws heavily from two of my favorite Stones albums, Exile on Main St. and Some Girls. At times, it was obvious that their voices and musicianship aren't what they used to be, but at no point do you see them trying to fake anything. The songs do not sound like the album versions, but I would have been disappointed if they had.

It was good to see the Stones aging gracefully, and I liked being reminded that their skills at what they do are still unrivaled.

Set list: Jumping Jack Flash, Shattered, She Was Hot, All Down the Line, Loving Cup, As Tears Go By, Some Girls, Imagination, Far Away Eyes, Champagne and Reefer, Tumbling Dice, You Got the Silver, Connection, Sympathy for the Devil, Live With Me, Start Me Up, Brown Sugar, Satisfaction.