Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Charlie Watts, Jack White, Buddy Guy, Christina Aguilera
Director:  Martin Scorsese
Audio:  Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length:  121 Minutes
Release Date:  July 29, 2008

“Why have you stayed together for so long?”

“Because we enjoy it.”

Film ***1/2

Shine a Light is nothing short of a happening, and should clear up any doubt that The Rolling Stones in their 60s can’t rock as hard or harder than many bands a quarter of their age.

It was directed by Martin Scorsese, who once made the seminal concert film of The Band with The Last Waltz.  Here, he chronicles the Stones in an intimate theatre setting, with guests no less than Bill and Hillary Clinton in attendance.

The opening of the film shows the preparation, as Marty tries to explain to the band the stage and camera set-ups and tries desperately to get a final set list from the group so he knows how to shoot.  Mick Jagger, bless him, keeps toying with it right up to the end.

No matter…Scorsese and his team of nine Oscar nominated and winning cameramen captured the group in top form.  Jagger still leaps and bounds with the energy of a teenager, and the band is solid as only a group that have been playing together for four decades can be.

The two hours chronicle plenty of music from the old to the new.  Favorites like “Satisfaction”, “Sympathy For the Devil” and “Tumbling Dice” keep the multi-generational crowd on their feet, and add buoyancy to the newer tracks.

A few guest appearances don’t hurt either.  Youngsters like Christina Aguilera and Jack White seem to be living the dream playing with the Stones, while blues legend Buddy Guy might have given the band their own turn to be a little star struck.

The cameras get so close you feel like you’re sharing the stage with the band, and the energy, highlighted by Mick’s strutting performance, is almost too big to be contained.  One could argue that the band hasn’t really produced a relevant album since Tattoo You, but it’s hard to say that the Stones should be resting on their laurels anytime soon while they can still present a show as fun as this one.

The Rolling Stones have nothing left to prove, even to themselves, so when they take the stage in a smaller venue, there’s nothing but a great time for all involved.  Their music remains indelible, and their presence is still masterful.  It’s no wonder they remain a top concert draw year after year.

Video ***1/2

The hi-def presentation captures the Stones with stunning clarity.  Some of the darker scenes exhibit a touch of unavoidable grain, but overall, the Blu-ray does an impressive job of preserving a special moment for rock fans everywhere.

Audio ***

I feel bad not going full out for the HD audio…it’s loud, crisp and dynamic, and the use of surround and bass signals generously delivers the feel of a live show in your living room.  But I have one complaint about the mix:  every time a single musician is shown on screen, the audio focuses on him.  So if you’re seeing Keith or Ron, their guitars are suddenly very loud.  Or if you’re watching the horns, they come up.  Even an isolated clip of a sax player in the horn section suddenly becomes isolated in the audio mix.  It kind of takes you out of the moment…you wouldn’t hear the audio mixed liked that if you were actually there.

Between the Dolby Digital and the DTS, the DTS HD track offers much more punch and dynamic range.  You can really hear the difference if you take a moment and switch back and forth.

Features **

There is a short behind-the-scenes featurette and four bonus songs, including one of my favorite and under-appreciated Stones’ tunes “Undercover of the Night”, along with “Little T&A”, “Paint it Black” and “I’m Free”.


Shine a Light demonstrates that The Rolling Stones are as viable a force in rock as they ever were, but for the band and the fans, that was never in question.  Martin Scorsese’s concert film is a triumph.

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