THE ROLLING STONES' SHINE A LIGHT: It's not only rock'n'roll (2008 review)

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The Rolling Stones: Live with Me (with Christina Aguilera)
THE ROLLING STONES' SHINE A LIGHT: It's not only rock'n'roll (2008 review)

Director Martin Scorsese might have his name large on the credits of this 2006 Rolling Stones concert but it is clear from the opening scenes just who is in charge: it is the Stones, and Mick Jagger in particular.

During hilarious opening scenes which recall Spinal Tap and the pilot for Curb Your Enthusiasm, Jagger is seen rejecting a model of stage set which seems to have been Scorsese’s idea (cut to a frustrated Scorsese who says he thought it was the Stones’ idea). Then Jagger is seen toying with a possible set list for their show at New York’s Beacon Theatre which Scorsese will be filming.

The sheer number of possible, probably and unlikely songs available -- as well as glimpse of Scorsese’s wish-list which is very late 60s -- reminds you of just what a catalogue these long distance rockers have to call on.

But, if what we see is to be believed, the bug-eyed and bewildered Scorsese doesn’t receive the final set list until the Stones arrive on stage.

Not that the director was unprepared. At the intimate Beacon -- not unlike Auckland’s St James for those who remember that now abandoned grand old lady -- had 17 cameras at various points to cover every angle of the event.

And quite some event it is. After some glad-handing with various Clintons the Stones just get about their business and thanks to Scorsese’s rapid editing, the multiple viewpoints and thrilling set list of old and newer songs -- plus guests White, Guy and Aguilera, and interpolated clips of the Stones in their younger days -- this is wry, sly and sexy rock’n’roll delivered with passion and a sense of its own history.

   The audience is almost incidental -- I guess it was Jagger’s call to have hot young women in the front rows -- and the band seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. When Jagger gets steamy with Aguilera it is noticeable that Richards goes off to duel with sax player Bobby Keys. Music, he seems to imply, is his muse not a beautiful blonde in stilettos.

   Jagger may be in his sixties but he uses the stage as a gymnasium-cum-catwalk as he struts, pouts, thrusts and wiggles his bony backside like someone a third his age.

   And even though Keith Richards on the huge screen looks like he has been unearthed from the Pleistocene Era, he possesses an undeniable, buccaneer charisma and charm.

All this and great music captured in widescreen sound and images makes for a terrific concert movie which, if it lacks the drama of the Stones’ earlier Gimme Shelter or period charm of Rock And Roll Circus, reminds you of the power of rock’n’roll to simply make you feel good.

The coincidence of U2’s concert movie currently screening invites a comparison. Where U23D is a masterpiece of technological innovation, as a rock band they are pompous, sexless and without humour. stonesnow

The Stones on the other hand are rock’n’roll entertainers with songs which touch a place somewhat further down than the head. The place where rock music as we know it was born.

Don’t miss the Shine A Light experience. I’m guessing in the end even Marty was glad he didn't.

This review appeared in the New Zealand Herald

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