The Rolling Stones Shine A Light IMAX Concert Movie
How many hot blond models can you cram in the front row of a theatre for a Rolling Stones concert movie? Ask Martin Scorsese he would probably know the exact number for sure. What I know for sure is that the front row looked great and this rockumentary could be the best concert film ever.
Filmed across 2 nights at the lush Beacon Theatre in NYC in the IMAX format the sound and picture quality are second to none.
Scorsese sneaks up on you a little at a time. The first 20 minutes or so of footage are presented in the standard cinema format and scenes oscillate between the director trying to nail down details with a band that can’t or refuses to be nailed down. Jagger won’t up the setlist and Scorsese needs the setlist to direct his cameras. There are several other exchanges between these to icons, most through a second or third party that just hilarious and really spells out how alikethese to control freaks are. The meet and greet with Bill ” I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman” Clinton and a number of other people seemed somewhat tolerated by the band and necessary for the charitable cause.
Michael Cohl can be heard but not seen as he welcomes fans to the second night at the Beacon and when the band finally hits the stage the show explodes with Jumpin’ Jack Flash.
This song is generally reserved for the encore set and the close out of the large stadium shows. This is quite a statement in itself. Whether it is because Scorsese got the setlist so late in the game or the fact that it takes a few minutes to adjust to the IMAX setting, the camera work seems almost dizzying to start. This may have been the intent. I didn’t particularly like this aspect but there certainly is an effect. Next up a New York song for a New York crowd. Shattered. You can feel the 1978 slightly post punk smattered all over the place. Jagger does the punk thing pretty well even at 60+ pieces. Shidobee!!
An underrated song from an underrated album was played next, She Was Hot. The guitar work and build up in this tune is pretty awesome. The last minute and a half of this song are just so good in some many ways!
I can’t stress enough how remarkable the sound and picture quality are throughout the entire movie. I have seen other IMAX films including The Stones AT The MAX. In Shine A Light the camera work and vocal clarity are just ridiculous. There are some shots here that seriously put you in the front row over and over again. Nice!! Grab a guitar pick if you can….
The archival footage chosen isn’t the stuff you have seen a hundred times before. Scorsese has dug up some real gems. The show is worth seeing for these alone. The inane media questions haven’t changed much in 43 years and either has the smirk on Keith Richards face. Say for a few mile-deep crevasses, his sense of humour and genuine rock bohemian-appeal remains entirely intact. He lives it and loves it!! It’s easy to tell when you are watching Keith in action playing and interacting with the crowd or the rest of the band. Keith is genuine all the time. Yes even when he is in full-blown pirate mode because you know that is who he is.
Two back-to-back Exile songs came up next. All Down the Line “kept the motor runnin'” followed by the Jack White assisted Loving Cup. I think Jack was little intimidated and most certainly in awe. He had to have been living a dream right at this moment. It looked like it and it was really fun to watch.
This is as close to a Jagger – Richards duet as you are ever going to get. As Tears Go By gets a brief explanation as Jagger states that “we were embarrassed to play this song at first so we gave to someone else to play”.
Keith takes a seat and Ronnie fades to side slightly as Mick and Keith masterfully weave a melancholy tale of woe. Beautiful!!
You know what in 1978 it was OK to say, “black girls just want to get fucked all night”. However I guess in 2008 in ain’t so cool. Maybe I should apologize now. Anyway I was voting big time that Mick would sing the lyric, he didn’t of course. Maybe with Lisa Fisher singing now with them…yeah! yeah! I don’t think the song Some Girls has seen the light of day for some time. The album Some Girls got heavy representation on these 2 nights at the Beacon.
The song Some Girls is followed by the Temptations classic, Just My Imagination and the country groove of Far Away Eyes. Mick dropped a lyric here as well. I know the Stones were never about singing the exact lyric from the album on any given night or the best of nights, however these weren’t your random lyrics and not just any lyric but a great stand out lyrics. (I was so pleased to be informed of this… I ran 20 red lights in his honour) Oh well, the rarity of the tune being played live easily overshadowed this little oversight! 1978 Mick played piano for this tune live tonight we get Ronnie on pedal steel. Ronnie Wood on pedal steel is worth the price of admission. He really does play a nice pedal steel. I think this may have been the only place Ronnie really stood out. Ronnie and Keith pass the leads back and forth a lot and I find Ronnie’s work a little more proficient but Keith’s stage persona / presence far outstrips Ronnie’s.
The IMAX format is not very forgiving there is no hiding the old scars on Keith right deltoid from the days of muscling junk. It makes it all so much more real.
There is a point when Ronnie is being interviewed and he is drinking a glass of Guinness. Based on his own admission from his autobiography he had to stop drinking because of health concerns and several other not very glamorous reasons. I must say it was kind of sad to see him sipping away again.
There is short clip in the film that shows Mick reviewing / singing some of the words to the next song Champagne & Reefer. He introduces the song by saying he first heard it played by Muddy Waters. Buddy Guy joins the band for this tune and adds his stellar element of the hardcore blues to the band. There is camera shot of Buddy frozen on a note and into his groove so heavy you think the film has come to a complete stop. The look on Buddy’s face and the camera shot are just awesome!! At the conclusion of the song Keith gives Buddy the guitar he was playing. It looked to me like a beautiful Gibson.
We “roll” through the not so challenging Tumblin’ Dice, band intros into a great Keith song from Let it Bleed. Keith played You Got The Silver and it just wonderful. Keith singing a couple of his songs during a Stones show is always a highlight. Keith singing without his guitar is a rarity as he did for the song Connection that followed You Got The Silver. Connection is a Between The Buttons oldie and what a gem!! What a great song choice. It was kind of different to see Keith up there without his guitar but it didn’t affect his ability to sing the tune. Over the course of the 2 nights there must have been 30 clothing changes. Keith in his full-length black coat with black headband and pirates of the Caribbean pin (skull with red headband & cross bones) was pretty awesome.
There is a nice long intro to Sympathy and we get Jagger entering from the rear theatre floor and strutting (have you ever read a Stones review where the word Strut wasn’t in it) down the center aisle. This is a true Rolling Stones movie and no one else gets much air time /camera time at all. It all completely makes sense. The focus was by far more so on Mick, Keith and Charlie. This makes complete sense as well.
Christina, Christina what are you dong here? She helped out Live With Me and did a pretty good job. Mick seemed to enjoy himself immensely even commenting after the song saying something like I loved that….it was just lovely. I guess so, he was grinding her ass a little during the performance and Live With Me with its suggestive lyrics was good choice for Aguliera. Christina was dressed as hot as any front row models and played the part much better. Although, personally I would take Lisa Fisher’s Gimme Shelter vocal any day over Christina. Alas Gimme would not be this night.
Its all been done!! This night was about a lot of things that hadn’t been before…yes even by a band that has been around 43+ years!!!
The magic of The Rolling Stones is such that most times a single chord or two, sometimes way before a lyric, announce their arrival. This is no more evident than with the song Start Me Up. Keith’s pick clashes with the telecaster strings and were off on the coaster ride that started long ago and seems to never ever want to end. The song is huge in any format in any venue!!
Brown Sugar is up next and is highlighted with brass horns, Bobby Keys and crowd participation. Jagger, ever the bandleader and crowd pleaser knows how to get them into it. Not that any one needed much chiding. Some of the Scorsese magic is that when even the smallest possibility exists that we may get even the remotest sense of ” been there done that” feeling he cuts to camera work that is exceptional or archival footage that gets us laughing.
Satisfaction is the closer and for me the only song that has full automatic written all over it. Keith is even challenged to reinvent this tune every time out. Maybe he doesn’t have to. There is still magic here anyway!! A camera shot from behind Charlie watching Keith live out a tune he has played 10,000 times if he has played it once is quite astonishing.
The band takes a bow and we get to walk out to the street as if we in their shoes for a moment under the close direction of “Marty” it all is so fun and done very tongue in cheek (no pun intended) as well. We all leave NYC in a flash rising first above the sounds of the street crowd and flashbulbs then soon above the city then up with the stars. Man we were already there!!
What a beautiful buzz…what a beautiful buzz….