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DVD REVIEW – The Rolling Stones – Live From The Vault: LA Forum 1975 and Hampton Coliseum 1981

| 6 November 2014 | Reply

DVD REVIEW – The Rolling Stones – Live From The Vault: LA Forum 1975 and Hampton Coliseum 1981
Shock Entertainment
21st and 7th November 2014 (respectively)
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
7/10 and 8 ½ /10

Rolling Stones Live From The Vault DVD

The first two in a series of live concerts from The Stones archives getting their first official release (not only on DVD but also on vinyl and CD too), both these concerts have been restored and the audio mixed by Bob Clearmountain to pristine condition.

By 1975 The Rolling Stones had, along with The Who and a couple of others, redefined the arena experience in The States, and were now touring sports stadiums and newly-built enormodomes rather than the school gymnasiums of the late 60s.

They were also in turmoil, being ripped apart by drug use, and having lost first Brian Jones and more recently Mick Taylor as a result.

The 1975 tour was the first to feature guitarist Ronnie Wood, and finds most of the band poker-faced and in their own little worlds. Raw and ragged, it’s a glorious example of how very different the ‘greatest rock n’ roll band in the world’ has sounded at various stages in their 40 year career.

With Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts head down & taciturn, doing their thing as ever, and Jagger, Richards & Wood all but ignoring each other half the time, keyboard maestro, the late, great Billy Preston steals the show time and time again, inserting catchy and inventive piano fills and backing vocals throughout, and taking centre stage for two of his own songs (That’s Life and Outta Space) – not to mention a dance break to be proud of.

The 25-track set list is superb, from a just-on-the-right-side-of-shambolic Honky Tonk Woman through Star Star, Gimme Shelter, You Gotta Move, Tumbling Dice, the little-played Fingerprint File, a bluesy Midnight Rambler featuring Jagger’s harp talents, Rip This Joint and many more.

A turbulent and sweaty finale of Street Fighting Man, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Sympathy For The Devil ties up a great show with a host of dancers and percussionists onstage for a chaotic conga-line that could only have been thought up by someone with too much Bolivian marching powder.
Fast forward a mere six years to the Hampton Coliseum and things are very different for The Rolling Stones.

For starters, the drug shambles of the mid ‘70s has been brought under control. Sure the ‘70s concerts were still locked in a groove, but there was sloppiness and at times the individual players seemed in their own world, as mentioned above. Here those raw edges have been smoothed out and it’s all about entertaining the crowd.

It’s also a far more self-aware band onstage, with everything from the set dressing and stage clothes (bright primary colours abound, as if Ken Done designed a rock n’ roll street scene), the sound, and the interaction and connection with the audience tightened up.

There’s little evidence onstage of Jagger & Richards feuding, even though they were (apparently the tour contract insisted Jagger stay offstage for Richards’ vocal turn on Little T&A, and the guitarist so objected to Jagger’s cherry picker that the singer offered to not use it… provided Keef gave up drugs for the rest of the tour. Suffice to say the cherry picker stayed), but tension is obvious here and there – especially when Keef playfully kicks Jagger’s butt from behind. The singer turns on him with blood in his eye, but returns immediately to a simmer.

With only a fistful of duplicate tracks from the ’75 DVD, these two releases really work alongside each other, showcasing completely different eras, attitudes and styles of arguably the greatest rock band ever.

Under My Thumb, When The Whip Comes Down, Shattered, Neighbours, Time Is On My Side, Beast Of Bourbon, Waiting On A Friend, She’s So Cold, Miss You are all present alongside a host of other favourites, and another tumultuous finale of Start Me Up, Jumping Jack Flash and Satisfaction. Another highlight is the famous sequence when a stage invader gets near Keef while balloons cascade over the stage, and the guitarist rips off his guitar and starts wielding it like a bludgeon on the hapless fool. Fans will also be able to tell that at least some of these tracks were used on the 1981 Still Life live album.
There’s no indication on these review screeners or their enclosed press releases if any extras will appear on the DVDs when they’re released – I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The Rolling Stones touring Australia right now is another beast entirely, but a thread of pure entertainment, and the spirit of rock n’ roll runs right through all the decades and mindsets and line-ups of the band. Collectors will love these releases and there’s plenty to enjoy for newcomers too – especially in the 1981 release.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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