Volume 77 / Number 47 - April 23 - 29, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Koch on film

By Ed Koch

“Shine A Light” (-)

First an admission. I never really liked the Rolling Stones or understood their enormous hold on their audience. It isn’t a matter of a generation gap since I was once young. I simply preferred the music of The Beatles from the time they first appeared on the world stage and still do. I understood and appreciated then, as I do now, the enormous popularity and impact of rock and roll music not only in and on America but throughout the civilized world.

The reviews of “Shine a Light,” a documentary about the Stones’ 2006 concert at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan, were extraordinary. The Times in particular praised the director, Martin Scorsese, and his use of 18 cameras to capture the performance from every conceivable angle. So I decided to see the movie and went to the 1:00 p.m. show at The Ziegfeld which has the largest screen in town. When the lights went down, the theater was only three percent occupied.

The band members, who began playing together in the early 1960s, have certainly aged, but they continue to have enormous energy. Mick Jagger, the lead vocalist, is still very thin and because of that will probably live to 120. I don’t think his voice is what endears him to his fans but rather his constant movement on stage during performances including the use of his arms, hands and index fingers to convey, at least for me, that he is a matador slaying a bull in the world’s largest bullring. Lead guitarist Keith Richards, who wears the smile of a Cheshire cat, has looked very haggard for years. Second guitarist Ron Wood and drummer Charlie Watts look the least worn. Like Jagger, however, Wood exhibits enormous vigor throughout the concert.

One song runs into another and the words with rare exception are never intelligible. Of course, to a knowing and adoring audience, the words are undoubtedly as familiar as the ABCs. What I enjoyed most of all were the too-brief interviews of the group in their youthful days. They looked very handsome, appeared to be highly intelligent, and their comments were refreshing. During one interview, Jagger was asked if he would continue to perform when he was 60 years old to which he replied he was sure he would. To this day, he continues to strut his stuff even more belligerently across the stage, and he will soon be celebrating his 65th birthday. His prehensile tongue was absent from this performance. A pity since that is his trademark.

The admission price of $14 for adults and $10 for seniors may have kept people away. I did not particularly enjoy the show, in large part due to the decibel level, but if you’re a Rolling Stones fan, I don’t doubt that you will have a wonderful time watching the performance. I hope Scorsese decides to do comparable films of Barbra Streisand and Joan Baez who are more my speed and culture. In the words of Maurice Chevalier in a song from “Gigi,” “I remember it well,” referring to my youth and that of the performers.

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