The Rolling Stones was here for a concert not too long ago, but since tickets were priced way out of my league, there was no way I could have seen them in action live unless I opted for the cheapest of the lot and sat well away from the stage. So I got to thank Martin Scorsese for having design and capture some definitive moments from a Rolling Stones performance, and share that stage magic the quartet provide when they're at their element, on a celluloid screen, captured for posterity.
Make no mistake, the entire movie is just like being there at a Rolling Stones concert, only that you'll have to ensure the cinema hall has great sound system installed, and you can't actually smell the sweat the rockers exude, even though you get to go really up close and personal during their performance, something which even the standing-only front row pit will not allow. You can even throw your hands up in the air only to irk those seated behind you, unless they and everyone else are game enough to turn the sedate cinema atmosphere into a party one. So this review (if I can call it one) largely depends on whether you're a Stones fan to appreciate, or for non-fans to want to give them a go, to kick back, relax (if you can) or just soak in the rollickingly wild atmosphere and immerse yourself into a Rolling Stones experience.
More than 20 songs were performed (if my mental counter serves me right), and for a Rolling Stones fan, you'll likely be satisfied them all for the price that you fork out. For a simple fleeting fan like me, it's an eye (ear?) opener to a lot more of their music, as well as an opportunity to watch them in action on the cheap. The first 10 minutes or so was the setup, with Scorsese worrying and fussing over how to film the Stones in action, and to want to have their set of songs as early as possible so that he could plan certain shots. But of course Mick Jagger and the gang got other ideas, as they flit from performance to performance during their "A Bigger Bang" tour, only to connect physically with Scorsese when they're at the designated performance stop at the Beacon theatre for the Clinton Foundation - where you'll get to see how big a fan Bill and Hillary are, together with their 30 strong entourage.
Interspersed throughout the concert performance are plenty of vignettes culled from past interviews spanning from the 60s, which will bring on some laughter as you watch them with perfect hindsight. You will get to see how youthful all of them looked when they first started out, and be amazed at their longevity in this business where bands come and go after making it to the top, if at all. Despite being grand-daddies, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts still look in great physical condition to be touring and strutting their stuff, dishing out high energy, high performance concerts, with Watts even cheekily feinting tiredness at a point. In fact, none of them thought earnestly thought, back in their youths, that they will sustain their popularity, or would have reasons for it, except perhaps Jagger himself who jested that he had dreamt about rocking the stage into his 60s.
Shine a Light doesn't break any new cinematic ground, even though it has cameras almost everywhere in a concert hall to capture every aspect and angle of the performing stage. In fact, despite Scorsese making appearances in front of the camera, his work behind it, with all due respect, could be replaced with any other director, and the outcome would probably be more or less the same, only because of the fact that it is a Rolling Stones concert with the band holding court from start to end. Would have been more of a blast to be able to see this in the IMAX version though.