Sweet Summer Sun:
Hyde Park Live
The Rolling Stones
Oh boy, it's another live video from the Rolling Stones. But wait — Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live is really something special, with enough wings to warrant a film beyond an earlier audio download. Celebrating their 50th anniversary, the Stones played before 100,000 on their home turf in London, their first gig at Hyde Park since 1969 when they celebrated the life of Brian Jones, who had passed away a few days before, and introduced the world to their new guitarist, Mick Taylor. As it so happened, Taylor would be joining the Stones as a special guest for their triumphant return to Hyde Park.
We begin with a little voice-over from Glastonbury, which Mick Jagger calls a very 'English" festival. It serves as sort of a setup for the Hyde Park gig, where upon their 50th year together feels like what Keith Richards calls a "pinnacle." It's Richards' signature riff on "Start Me Up" that begins the 16-track (plus three bonus tracks) program. Almost immediately, you'll notice the expanse and general mood of the festival allowed director Paul Dugdale and his crew to roam the grounds for some really spectacular angles, zooms and shots. This may be one of the best directed Stones films to date, and when you consider top-notch guys like Hal Ashby and Martin Scorsese have had their turn at capturing the Stones, that's nothing to dismiss lightly.
From a sturdy work-out on "Street Fighting Man" (with a cut-away to a big grin from Charlie Watts) to a fan montage during "Ruby Tuesday," the Stones are on the mark the whole time. Even the new "Doom And Gloom" seems to excite the crowd. Jagger and Richards reminisce about the 1969 gig before the singer dons his original white puffy shirt for a standard run-through of "Honky Tonk Women." Richards' turn at "You Got The Silver," punctuated by Ronnie Wood's magnificent slide work on the acoustic, may be the most heartfelt performance of the set.
Mick Taylor talks about joining the Rolling Stones in 1969 before coming up for "Midnight Rambler." Taylor's presence on the 50 & Counting tour was a major coup in getting older diehards to come out and spend the big bucks at a Stones concert. Seeing him here, filling in those gaps that no other player can do quite as smoothly, is a real treat. Actually, the whole band is on fire for this song, possibly the greatest homage to 1969 they could possibly pull off. Now, if only they'd roll out a video of "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" with Taylor in the driver's seat, we might be onto something.
The rest of the show is filled out with Stones classics — "Gimme Shelter," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Sympathy For The Devil, " "Brown Sugar," "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (accompanied by the London Youth Choir to great effect) and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Why they didn't include "Emotional Rescue," "Paint It Black" and "Before They Make Me Run" in the film, and instead stuck them on the DVD and Blu-ray as Bonus Tracks may strike a few rational beings as a wonderfully strange ploy, but Dugdale must have had his reasons. Ether way, it's all here, a fairly complete performance, apparently taken from the July 6 and 13 shows of 2013. If you can get past the occasional fan mouthing lyrics in slow motion or the sentimental silliness that precedes "Satisfaction," you'll find Sweet Summer Fun: Hyde Park Live to be a great addition to the extensive Rolling Stones film library.
~ Shawn Perry