The Stones Can Still Tear It Up

Last night I went to see Shine a Light, the Stones’ new IMAX film shot by Martin Scorsese. Here’s the trailer:

It’s a busy day, so no time for a full-on review, but I wanted to make a few notes:

  • The real star of the show is Keith Richards, who’s fascinating to watch. It’s as if his body has grown around his guitar, and is part of him. He’s ugly in the most interesting way. When he shambles out in a long cloak to sing lead vocals on “You’ve Got the Silver”, he’s like some dark priest singing incantations to an ancient god.
  • I want the jacket Keith wears in the opening section of the show.
  • Jack White simply cannot contain his glee at playing a song with the Stones. It’s very charming.
  • Either the band genuinely still enjoys what they’re doing, or they’ve become masters of pretense.
  • They stacked the front row of the audience with pretty girls, most of whom could be the band’s grandchildren.
  • The concert is actually a benefit for Bill Clinton’s foundation. To Scorsese’s credit, he never shows the former president after Clinton introduces the band. There’d be a real temptation to cut to him the audience.
  • The amount of energy that Mick Jagger puts out is shocking. And in two months he’s going to qualify for the senior citizen’s discount.
  • “Sympathy for the Devil” is, for my money, the best rock song ever written. There’s a great moment in movie when doors fly open at the back of the house and Mick stands there, bathed in orange light. He struts through the audience to the opening beat of “Sympathy”. He’s wearing (I think) a black ostrich feather jacket, and looks every inch the Prince of Darkness.

Clearly these dude are really old. But I still can’t not recommend this movie. Scorsese is a master, and he gives the concert footage this inertia that’s very watchable.


  1. Keith has always been the engine driving the Stones. Just think of how their songs are structured.

    Most bands would begin a tune with the drummer counting off, but in most Rolling Stones numbers (including the majority of the classics), it’s Keith who turns the key with a riff: “Satisfaction,” “Mother’s Little Helper,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Street Fighting Man,” “Brown Sugar,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Midnight Rambler,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Happy,” “All Down the Line,” “Start Me Up,” and so on. And more remarkably, you can tell it’s him with each one, within seconds.

    Back when he and Mick were off doing solo stuff in the ’80s and ’90s, it was Keith’s X-Pensive Winos band that was the more interesting and musically rocking. It didn’t matter that Mick hired Joe Satriani to try to fill Keith’s shoes.

  2. Sympathy for the devil was written after Mick read “The Master and Margarita”, a Russian book in which the devil comes to life in early 20th century Russia.

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