Martin Scorsese’s concert film about the Rolling Stones, "Shine a Light," is one of the most involving, heart-stopping, accurately filmed accounts of a rock concert ever made. There’s no doubt of that. The movie is so well-directed that you feel like you’re on stage at the Beacon Theater with Mr. Snake Hips himself, Mick Jagger.
But — yes, there’s always a but — real Stones fans may notice a couple of changes denote the group all grown up. For this show as presented, Jagger has censored his own songs at least twice.
This may be because the show as taped was filmed at the Beacon Theater in October 2006 as part of Bill Clinton’s endless 60th birthday celebrations to raise money for his foundation. Bill, Hillary, Chelsea and, improbably, the president of Poland all are in attendance.
So that’s probably the reason I noticed at least two songs were changed for the performance. In "Sympathy for the Devil," you will notice, Jagger no longer sings, "We shouted out, 'Who killed the Kennedys?/When after all/It was you and me.'" The entire stanza has gone missing.
More appropriately, Jagger also restrains himself on the song "Some Girls," which contains a lascivious and — for some — racist observation that has always appeared on the 1978 album of that name. Older viewers may be listening for it, but as with the "Sympathy" verse, this is gone, too.
The whole thing is kind of puzzling because Jagger — as the film observes early on — went through lists and lists of Stones songs to come up with the right mix for the show. He must have known "Some Girls" would be problematic; he certainly wasn’t going to sing the offensive couplet with the Clintons present and for a movie.
Indeed, the choices are odd and so are the omissions: "Miss You" would have been the perfect song for a New York audience, and a crowd-pleaser. "Can’t You Hear Me Knocking" would have been a tour de force to show off all of the band’s musicianship.
But this is nitpicking. Jagger did some neat match-ups. Christina Aguilera joins him for an inspired rendition of "Live With Me" from "Let It Bleed," and Jack White is sensational on "Loving Cup" from "Exile on Main Street." If the band felt forced to include contemporary performers, these — along with Buddy Guy on the previously unreleased "Champagne and Reefer" — were perfect choices.
Scorsese mixes in some unseen or forgotten archival material of Stones interviews from the '60s and '70s as counterpoint to the current concert. Because there are no real interviews with the band members now, he has to let those old interviews work against the present concert so the viewer can get character references. It’s an unusual course to take, but it works.
The highlight of the movie, though, is Jagger. While Scorsese and crew give lots of attention to Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood, the director clearly is smitten with this live wire who turns 65 this July.
Jagger is a remarkable creature as shown here, a physical phenomenon. In a couple of instances — particularly "All Down the Line" and "Devil" — Scorsese captures Jagger’s frenetic ballet in iconic frames.
How could this man — who survived the highest level of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll — be this lithe, energetic, agile and fierce?
Scorsese doesn’t quite answer that — he merely leaves the question out there by showing us the inarguable evidence. He bathes Jagger’s naturally brown mop of shagged hair in buttery backlight that only makes him even more the greatest rock star ever. Scorsese sees how breathtaking he is, and just wants to show us, too.
By the way, whoever mixed the soundtrack did an excellent job. You’ll want the double CD on CD, not compressed for downloading, to play on what we used to call home hi-fi’s — the kind with real speakers and imaging.
And here’s a nice grace note: The movie is dedicated to the memory of Ahmet Ertegun, who fell and hit his head at the Beacon show. He went into a coma and died two months later.
You don’t have to know too much about Broadway to know this: Patti LuPone has been waiting to star in "Gypsy" like forever.
On Thursday night she finally got her chance, and the result was many standing ovations and people just jumping for joy. Tony-winner? Sure. But it’s more than that. When you see Patti LuPone as Mama Rose and this whole new production, it’s as if time has rewound to the golden era of musicals. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
LuPone is not the only knockout performance in this show, by the way: Laura Benanti is sublime and sexy as Louise ("Sing out, Louise!") and looking very Audrey Hepburn. She’s a standout, but the whole cast, including the dependably gifted Boyd Gaines, is not to be missed.
The St. James Theatre — home for years to "Hello, Dolly!" and more recently "The Producers" — was just packed with big names on Thursday night to see this, too: Lauren Bacall; Phyllis Newman; Matthew Broderick; Marisa Tomei; Mandy Patinkin with wife, Kathryn Grody; producer Marty Richards; Liz Smith; Dina Merrill (who’s a producer of the show with husband, Ted Hartley); character actor Stephen Root, who came with pal Wayne Knight (Newman from "Seinfeld"); New Line Cinema chief Michael Lynne and wife, Ninah; Celia Weston; and Angela Lansbury were just a few A-listers we ran into.
Patti even invited Chris Burke, the young man who played her son with Down syndrome on her TV series, "Life Goes On," to cheer her on.
And while Patti was the central story of the night, there was another subplot: The musical was directed by 90-year-old Arthur Laurents, who wrote and directed the original some 49 years ago on Broadway.
Just in case you don’t know, Arthur wrote the novels "The Way We Were" and "The Turning Point," both of which became huge movies. He co-wrote and directed the original "West Side Story" on Broadway in 1960. He was blacklisted during the McCarthy era.
Before the curtain went up, I ran into this remarkable legend next door at Angus McIndoe restaurant, where he was having a pre-show snack. What prompted him to get back in the game?
"I’ll tell you the truth. I lost my partner, Tom Hatcher, two years ago. We were together for 50 years. On his deathbed he asked me to do this. So I did."
Laurents is not stopping with this success. In the next year, he will bring back "West Side Story" as director. "It will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before," he said.
Patti Boyd Harrison Clapton hits New York with a bang on Saturday. The one-time model was married first to George Harrison, then to Eric Clapton. She inspired a ton of songs, notably "Layla" and "Something." Really, she should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
Boyd’s appearing at the 35th annual Beatle Fest over at the Crowne Plaza Meadowlands on Saturday, where she’ll sign copies of her book (I bought it — you have to read it). From 2:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. she’s doing a Q&A with Beatlexpert Martin Lewis. All details are at thefest.com.
Some other guests at Beatle Fest include former Wings members Laurence Juber and Denny Siewell, not to mention cast members from the Julie Taymor film "Across the Universe" and maybe even May Pang. But it’s Pattie who’s the hot ticket. Her memoir, "Wonderful Tonight," is a great read. Check out her Web site.
… Since we’re on the subject of rock 'n' roll: David Fishof’s Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp is going on tour this summer! See the video here. Slash, Jack Bruce, Vince Neil and more are featured! ...