June 14, 2024

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CD & Live album review: The Rolling Stones – GRRR Live! – 2023: Video, CD cover

True rock legends The Rolling Stones drop the group’s definitive best-of live concert film and album GRRR Live!

Available now thanks to Mercury Studios, the set can be had in a variety of formats, including 3LP black, 3LP coloured white (Indies exclusive) 3LP red (d2c exclusive), 2CD, DVD + 2CD, and BluRay+ 2CD. The Blu-ray and digital versions will include Dolby Atmos. It’s a joyful run through the greatest songs in Stones’ history such as “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Start Me Up,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Sympathy For The Devil,” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

Even cooler, a who’s-who of special guests showed up to sit in that brought The Black Keys (“Who Do You Love?”), Gary Clark Jr and John Mayer (“Going Down”), Lady Gaga (“Gimme Shelter”), Mick Taylor (“Midnight Rambler”), and local hero Bruce Springsteen (“Tumbling Dice”) to the stage. The gig went down December 15, 2012, at Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center as the last of four nights in the New York region on The Stones’ 50 & Counting Tour.

Originally, the show was a pay-per-view event that hasn’t been seen since it aired in 2012. Now it’s been remixed, re-edited, and expanded with three bonus songs from the Newark run on the DVD and Blu-ray. The audio and video are of pristine quality, the band is on fire, and you’ll know the words to every tune. What more could a Stones fan want?

After sending out an amazingly entertaining masked drum line to dance and play in the crowd to get the people up, The Stones launch into their opener “Get Off My Cloud.” With a body of work as epic as this lot, it’s nothing to throw out a major hit to kick off a show. Immediately, the band is powered up. Mick’s vocals and steps are as strong as ever, Keith and Ronnie weave their tapestry of guitars, and the late, great Charlie Watts pumps out the drum beats that make us all want to dance. It’s the full Rolling Stones experience encapsulated in a single song and they haven’t even warmed up yet.

The band then cranks out another three monster hits in a row just to flex a bit. “The Last Time,” “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” and “Paint It Black” are eternal rock radio classics the likes of which most bands will never match. Here, they’re just the first part of the show. The Stones found their songwriting magic early on and have always been living proof that memorable hooks and grooves will take a group to the top and into listeners’ lives. The film clearly shows how much the people love these tunes and how happy everyone on stage is to be performing them. You can see and hear that this was one of those perfect nights when good vibes ruled the room.

One of the show’s countless ecstatic moments is when the inimitable Lady Gaga comes out for the second verse of “Gimme Shelter” and absolutely destroys the place. LG is one of the few humans on earth able to shine equally with Mick Jagger. Like him, she’s a true rock star, larger than life in every way. Even on a stage full of some of the most famous musicians in history, she goes hard and takes control. Seeing her with Mick in the concert film will reaffirm every belief in rock and roll you ever had.

A raging jam session breaks out when Gary Clark Jr. and John Mayer join the Stones for a pentatonic romp through “I’m Going Down.” Clark and Mayer are musical descendants of Mick, Keith, and the rest of the band, like all of us, and throw it down like the true believers they are. Hearing them all play live together is transcendent and unforgettable.

Guitarist Mick Taylor comes out on “Midnight Rambler,” which gets a high-voltage reading and pays respect to Taylor’s time as a Stone. Many consider the Taylor period as the creative high point of the Stones’ career and he’ll always be part of their soul. Bruce Springsteen joins in on “Tumblin’ Dice” and raises the roof and the stage temperature.

In many ways, this was the perfect, all-killer Rolling Stones show we’ve all dreamed of attending. The set list is one hit after another, the band is fully alive and cooking, and the special guests make it a one-of-a-kind gig. Whether you listen to the record or watch the film, you’ll be gifted with everything that makes The Rolling Stones the greatest rock and roll band in the world. GRRR Live! belongs in your headphones forever. Who says you can’t always get what you want?

The Rolling Stones, GRRR Live!, album cover

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