Review: Ladies & Gentlemen... The Rolling Stones (1973)

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Like many, I discovered the Rolling Stones as a young adolescent. The energy, the power, the sexual angst. I identified with it all and it shaped the man I am now.

I was 15. But this was not 1964.

It was 1994.

And my parents were not forbidding me from listening to "devil's music". In fact my mom was dragging me to see The Stones in concert at the Winnipeg Stadium as part of their Voodoo Lounge Tour.

I was completely enthralled. Everything was larger than life. The sound, the lights, the pyro, the inflatable women. It was an overwhelming attack on the senses.

This is not the concert I witnessed in Ladies and Gentlemen... The Rolling Stones. And yet, it equalled the intensity.

Ladies and Gentlemen was an original 1973 concert film taken from 4 shows in Texas on the 1972 Exile on Main Street North American tour. It was shown for one night only on September 16, 2010 exclusively at select Cineplex Entertainment Theatres across Canada.

Is there really a need for another Stones concert film? Probably not. This one is probably for die hards only. And for people like me. I wasn't alive during this tour. I didn't live through the 60s when the Stones, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan were shaping the music and the world as we know it. The Stones that I grew up watching were the over the top, excessively glamorous Vegas-style shows with multiple piece orchestras and background singers.

As a kid, seeing the lavish stadium concert footage from the 80s and 90s, I was able to figure out why they were so famous.

But watching this film, I was able to see why they were so good. Any artist that lasts as long as the Stones do will have varying periods of their career that fans debate and discuss. There are so many eras in the Stones' career. So many periods, so many images and sounds.

This era and this sound has provided the most lasting effect of The Stones on pop culture. 40 years later, it's these Stones that we so fondly remember. So long were the early 'pop' days. And so long were their rivals The Beatles. The Stones were now officially the biggest band in the world. They weren't kids anymore. They were mature, seductive, intense beings.

And the music from this era is the sound that we now most identify as the 'Stones' sound. That rough, masculine, bluesy, country rock. It's all here for the viewer to experience. A raw, intimate, sexy, rock n roll concert film.

The footage is a bit crude and even primitive by today's standards. But the simpler production values give the viewer a more intimate, almost voyeuristic point of view. Long close ups of Mick Jagger's young face helps one see into the eyes of one of the all time great performers. There are moments when you can almost see what he's thinking during some of these shots. The prancing and pouting is at their peak during this concert, but the spontaneity of much of his actions gives the viewer a closer peak inside the mind of the artist. Today, Mick's moves are so slickly choreographed it's almost as if you're watching the image of him that the media has created, not the man himself.

The Mick Jagger in this film is the real deal, mistakes and all. And so is everyone else, including Mick Taylor who we get to reminisce on what a great guitar virtuoso he was with some beautiful solo work by him.

My only complaint is not enough Keith. But hey, we could always use more Keith!

All in all Ladies and Gentlemen... The Rolling Stones may not be as flashy as, say, Scorsese's Shine a Light (2008), but it provides an accurate snapshot of who the Stones were and why they are who they are. Its quiet and simple camera work is countered by a tight running time and jam packed with big hits of the era, not to mention superiorly restored picture and sound.

Ladies and Gentlemen may not break any new ground by today's standards, but it does remind us of the ground that was once broken by these young lads.

For those who missed the opportunity to see it in theatres, Ladies and Gentlemen... The Rolling Stones will be released on DVD and Bluray on October 12, 2010.

Tags: The Rolling Stones, The Stones, Ladies and Gentlemen, concert film

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