Shine a Light

If you're expecting Martin Scorsese to do a Last Waltz number on the Rolling Stones, snap out of it. No way are the Stones the departed. No way are they ready for a farewell concert like the classic 1978 elegy Scorsese did for the Band. In Shine a Light, the Stones defy you to wave them off. The music is full-out, in-your-face, viscera-twisting rock & roll. Because the film was shot in 2006 at New York's Beacon Theater at a benefit for the Clinton Foundation, you might think Scorsese had limited access. There's a dishy bit with Mick Jagger having a snit about all those distracting cameras and cranes. Scorsese doesn't budge. In tact, eighteen cameras — manned by the Oscar-winning likes of Robert Richardson, John Toll and Robert Elswit — zoom around thetage like flies on honey, catching Jagger turning on the heat with a backup singer in "She Was Hot," Keith Richards pouring his lived-in voice into "You Got the Silver," Ron Wood showing even Keith what a guitar can do and the ever-stoic Charlie Watts bringing his drums to orgasm. The archival interviews are a shock — time has lined their faces, but their energy remains explosive. The guest shots pay off in different ways. Jack White looks agog being with his idols on "Loving Cup," and Christina Aguilera meets Jagger on her own sexual highway on "Live With Me." The killer is blues legend Buddy Guy on "Champagne & Reefer," taking on the Stones and making their jaws drop. The Stones lay to the audience, not the camera, but the setting is so intimate and Scorsese's focus is so intense that you seem to experience the concert in three dimensions. This you-are-there spellbinder is a master director shining his light on the best rock band on the planet. Get busy.

 

From The Archives Issue 450: June 20, 1985
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