Until today, I’ve never watched a concert movie I really liked. The screen never seems to quite duplicate the experience of seeing a great show in person. That bass thump that shakes your chest, the feeling of community with the other people in the crowd, the joy of hearing one of your favorite songs and jumping out of your seat in excitement; how can a camera capture that?
It can’t, of course. But Martin Scorsese comes as close as you can with Shine A Light.
The king of the gangster genre, Scorsese also is an unabashed rock fan who has used many classics in the soundtracks of his movies. Shine A Light shows The Rolling Stones in all their glory. It is a celebration of the greatest band ever, more a tribute than a documentary.
The Stones look every second of their ages. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are 64, Ronnie Wood is 60 and Charlie Watts 66. Scorsese and his talented cinematographers capture every wrinkle with cameras placed at assorted angles at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan during a two-show stand in 2006.
But you forget that Mick and Keith are as old as your parents when you see them tear up Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Shattered to start the show. Mick’s energy and athleticism are astonishing, he never stops dancing or playing to the crowd. And while no man his age should wear eyeliner, Keith’s sheer joy in playing the guitar comes through the screen, as does his affection for Wood and devilish personality. Watts, the coolest cat in the room, provides the foundation.
The best scenes are the guest spots. Jack White comes out for Loving Cup. Then the great blues guitarist Buddy Guy makes an appearance for Champagne and Reefer followed by a sexy Christina Aguilera for Live With Me.
I’m a marginal fan of Aguilera, but she has a great voice and holds her own with Jagger on the stage.
The concert is mixed with archival footage of the Stones being interviewed during the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. There are also a few scenes of the band members hanging with Bill Clinton before the show.
I never quite jumped out of my seat. But I wanted to. If you tap your steering wheel like a drum and sing along when Brown Sugar comes on the radio, go see Shine A Light. Plus how often can you see a Scorsese flick when nobody gets shot in the head?