Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Shine A Light

This past weekend my buddy Adam and I went to experience -- that word is chosen carefully, we didn't see a movie, we experienced one -- the Imax presentation of Marty Scorsese's brilliant "Shine A Light." It was quite a sight to see Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie rip through the classics on a 60 foot high screen.

The Rolling Stones remain the most successful and resilient rock band in history. The greatest band is, of course, always going to be a debatable issue. Most will argue for The Beatles, I would vote for Led Zeppelin and the snobby music critics (who have lost what it means to love music) will say it's Echo and the Bunnymen or The New York Dolls. But you can't deny the Stones' staying power and importance. "Shine A Light" is a celebration of rock and roll and the blues on 70mm film.

Mick is as campy as ever. Never stopping to act like a man who has fire ants in his boxer shorts and epilepsy at the same time. He is, without doubt, the most fit 64 year old on the planet. Ronnie continues to display his mastery of slide guitar. The human metronome Charlie Watts barely breaks his poker face as he drives the tunes along in perfect time. And Keef continues to defy medical science by just being alive. No man has ever made the guitar look more natural or effortless. I see his gnarled, arthritic looking hands and marvel at how the riffs sound perfect and the bluesy solos remain inspired. There are two things that would survive a nuclear explosion; cockroaches and Keith Richards. (I think I stole that joke, but don't remember where from.)

Besides the masterful camera work and seamless editing, these were the highlights for me;

Two of my favorite Stones cuts were included. "Far Away Eyes," a sardonic country song. And "You Got The Silver," Keef's great ballad that he sang while Mick took a break.

After Buddy Guy blows the doors off the joint doing Muddy Waters' "Champagne & Reefer," Keith walks over and gives him his guitar spontaneously. "It's yours," he slurred. Very cool.

Keef just gets more and more funny as he ages. The man is high comedy. His declaration of "I don't think on stage, I feel," was poetic.

When Jack White strode onstage with his Gretsch Rancher to sing one of my favorites "Loving Cup," with Mick the hairs on my arms stood at attention the whole song. I hope no matter how old I get, I never lose that feeling.

Let's wrap it up with a Rolling Stones version of YouTube Gems. These are some of my favorites.

I'd think twice about rushing the stage while Keef is trying to play his axe. You may to get decapitated.

A great version of "Far Away Eyes."

Keef showing his mastery of the blues, doing Robert Johnson's "32-20 Blues."

Very early performance of "Heart of Stone" on Ed Sullivan.

Excess nearly killed Keith. In an unreleased documentary, it appears a groupie prepares and gives Keef a shot of heroin.

Probably my favorite Stones song, "Beast of Burden."

The trailer for "Gimme Shelter." The film that documented The Stones efforts to have a Woodstock West that resulted in the Hells Angels -- who were acting as "security" -- stabbing Meredith Hunter during the show. That event, along with the Kent State Massacre and the deaths of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, effectively ended the optimistic hope of the 60's.

Thank heavens the music lives on.

Good night and good luck.

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