Review: The Rolling Stones - Crossfire Hurricane
November 21st, 2012
Weaving together old gig and interview footage, some never-before-seen, along with fresh commentary from the band themselves, Crossfire Hurricane takes the viewer on a fascinating journey through the band’s history as they mark their fiftieth anniversary. Covering highs and lows, the first part, charting the band’s early days up to the tragic death of Brian Jones in 1969, manages to be both funny and moving and seems to have the same energy running through it as so much of the band’s music.
For someone such as myself, whose knowledge of the Rolling Stones is admittedly very patchy – like lots of people my age I know a few songs and understand how many other acts they influenced but I don’t know very muchabout the band itself – Crossfire Hurricane provides the perfect entry way into a subject that I feel that I probably should know a lot more about. It tells you enough to be interesting but not too much that it is overwhelming and indigestible. The programme really highlights how important such acts as the Stones were to the counterculture movement, not merely in what they played, but how they did it.
The anti-establishment imagery (not to mention the androgyny and gender plasticity) that finds itself in so many musical acts since them must surely have had at least some roots in what they were doing. The vehement criticism that they accrued if anything served only to spur them on, and it will be interesting to see in next week's concluding part just how much that actually helped them to become one of the most-loved bands in music.
The voices of the band’s recollections and insights are played over a lively compilation of recordings of gigs, TV interviews and even home movie-style footage of the band preparing for concerts and unwinding after them. This lends a sense of continuity to the new interviews, at once firmly rooting what they are saying in the past, but also lending a sense of immediacy with the additional visual stimulus. The effect produced is subtly different from that of a “talking-heads” style documentary, adding another level of interest. Footage of the memorial concert for Brian Jones in Hyde Park, for instance, furnishes what the band say about him, and indeed death itself, with a powerful sense of poignancy.
Whilst retrospective rock documentaries can often be quite dull, Crossfire Hurricane is skilfully put together such that it is far from just a bunch of long in the tooth rock stars discussing their glory days, but rather it maintains interest throughout and vividly paints a picture of what must surely be one of the most iconic and influential music acts of the twentieth century.