I always go for the music movies on the plane. Shine a Light, man. Shine a light. Um, not too brightly though, the crags have gotten pretty deep. But yeah, good movie. Must be good for me to actually write about it. Where by “write” I mean “scribble down a bunch of random thoughts with crayon, to fill the rest of the flight.”
So. Turns out Keith Richards is overrated as a guitarist. Bit of a shock, really. And he’s a good enough singer, but really, two songs of his own? Not exactly captivating. And I think he had a TelePrompTer; he kept looking down just before each couplet.
Okay, with that out of the way, I got words.
Energy. Mick Jagger at 65 million years or whatever old has more energy than most entire bands. If you buried him under a mountain he would eventually compress into enough oil to fuel the world for decades. Not that I doubt for a second that his energy (or all that thinness) is chemically enhanced, but still. Drug energy is just a loan really; when does he pay it back? He’s no spring turkey any more, but ol’ Mick’s still got a hell of a line, and moves like a figure skater. All four of the original Stones still steam with stage presence and joy at playing. Of course the backing singers, bass, keys, and horn section look happy too; who wouldn’t?
Apology. Dear Ronnie Wood: I apologize for taking until now to realize you’re ten times the guitarist that Keith is. Nice pedal steel work, man.
History. So okay, Keith not so great on the axe, but… Does anyone understand the roots of the instrument better? Who else could (or would) get Jack White, Christina Aguilera, and Buddy Guy on stage with them in one concert? And giving Buddy your guitar at the end of his song was a nice touch.
Reality. Reality is good. Benefit concert in a huge fancy theater, introduced by Bill Clinton, filmed by Martin Scorcese? And you’re 117 years old? Pretty ballsy to make it real. Sure, it was rehearsed, but the arrangements were something other than note-for-note copies of the records, like what some aging bands do (I’m looking at you, The Eagles). No lip-syncing or pre-recorded licks here. Couple minor mistakes make that clear. (Unless they put those in on purpose, like cutting off a branch of a perfect Christmas tree to make it look more natural. If so, well played, Stones. Well played. Well, well played nevertheless.)
It takes a certain talent to reach the level of spectacle while staying raw and intimate. Big fan of raw and intimate here, and yes, these boys have it. Makes getting old a little less scary, to know they still got it.
Shine a Light (Martin Scorcese, 2008)