For those who saw the Rolling Stones live at Slane last summer and wonder how Martin Scorsese's cinematic take on a Stones concert could beat it, think again. This film captures a 2006 benefit concert at New York's Beacon Theatre, giving an intimate insight into what drives the band, what it is that makes their stage presence electric and why they are still rocking in their 60s.
Footage at the start of the film shows Mick Jagger peering into a scale model of the Beacon Theatre stage as someone tries to convince him that this really is the set he asked for. Meanwhile, in New York we see Scorsese under pressure to build this intricate set and get preparations perfect. It is strange to see a legend like Scorsese made to sweat and panic by Jagger, who leaves him hanging for a set-list until minutes before the band goes on stage. It is almost like a game of who is the bigger legend. Just to add to the legends equation further, Bill Clinton arrives with his entourage (including Hillary) to meet the band before the concert.
Once the show opens with 'Jumping Jack Flash', the band's adrenalin is pumping, as we see shots of Jagger's rake-like figure bouncing around the screen. As they work through the 22 songs there is no sense that they've played the songs thousands of times before or that they are going through the motions. Keith Richards and Jagger in particular seem to be totally inspired and energised by songs such as 'She was Hot' and 'Paint it Black'.
Apart from this excitement, the film also captures more intimate moments, like the close relationship of Keith Richards and Ron Wood, through looks and gestures between the pair. The camera close-ups of deep lines and flaws on Richards' face captures the character of the guitarist whose lead vocal performances in 'You Got the Silver' and 'Connection' are great moments.
Blues guitarist Buddy Guy's guest appearance on the track 'Champagne and Reefer' is one of the highlights of the concert and the best of the guest appearances, which include Jack White and Christina Aguilera.
The film is interspersed with some classic Stones footage, such as interviews after the arrests of Jagger and Richards on drugs charges. The movie would have benefited from more of this footage or some additional interviews with the band to keep non-Stones devotees entertained.
While 'Shine a Light' is a well-filmed, insightful and energetic view of an amazing concert, it leaves the cinema-going audience quite restrained when instead of screaming and jumping when (I Can't Get No) 'Satisfaction' begins, the most you can do is tap your foot.