Entire villages could get lost in the deep crevices of Mick Jagger’s face. I noted this, with some alarm, in the opening frames of Martin Scorsese’s excellent Rolling Stones “documentary” (really, just a super-sized concert film) Shine a Light. Those openings scenes are shot in high contrast black and white, so every facial crease, every well-earned crag and fold, is intensified. (The rest of the film is in color.)
Actually, at this point in their careers, the members of the Rolling Stones, all now in their 60s, look remarkably alike. (With the exception of Charlie Watts, who always did look like an especially cool music teacher who was just along for the ride.) Mick, plus guitarists Keith Richards and Ron Wood, are super skinny—rock star skinny—with tight pants and virtually no asses. They all have freakishly sinewy arms, as if the ability to produce body fat abandoned them some time in the mid-80’s. They all have dark hair (dyed, one assumes)—Mick’s is still floppy and feathered; Wood’s is still a 60's-style shag; Richards adorns his with beads and headscarves. They don’t look like old men. But they certainly don’t look like young men either. They are, very simply, the Stones—the oldest, most famous, most rockin’-est group of senior citizens on the planet.
I have to say this. Before seeing this documentary, which seamlessly combines concert footage from a few gigs but focuses mostly on one night in 2006 at New York City’s storied Beacon Theater, I was of the school of thought that rock is for the young. To me, rock is youth—it’s a youthful expression of exuberance, of anti-establishmentarianism, of sexuality, and bravado. Old men have no place in such an arena.
Well, damned if this movie didn’t change my mind. Because I defy anyone to look at the Rolling Stones and say that these boys weren’t meant to rock. Yes, still.
For the rest of this review, check out the May issue of the magazine.