Music Blu-ray Review: The Rolling Stones - Sweet Summer Sun - Hyde Park Live

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If you’ve seen any recent Rolling Stones concert video, you know exactly what to expect from Sweet Summer Sun - Hyde Park Live. Between the 2003 Four Flicks and 2007 The Biggest Bang multi-DVD live box sets, not to mention Martin Scorsese’s 2008 concert film Shine a Light, there are plenty of examples of the band’s latter day stage show. Taped during the July 6, 2013 performance at London’s Hyde Park, Sweet Summer Sun carries the minor historical import of occurring 44 years and one day after their free concert at the same location. That original 1969 Hyde Park show occurred just two days after the untimely passing of Brian Jones, making it unspeakably more important than this new concert.

Here we get a more or less standard-issue Stones show, one that offers the band’s customarily professional crowd-pleasing extravaganzas. Many shots of adoring fans singing along are incorporated throughout as a way of reminding us what we already know: The Rolling Stones are rock and roll’s foremost institution. Former Stone Mick Taylor, who made his live debut with the band at the original Hyde Park show, guests on two numbers: “Midnight Rambler” and the final encore of “Satisfaction.” Taylor’s appearance helps set Sweet Summer Sun somewhat apart, though he only strums acoustic guitar on the second song. Mick Jagger is in his usual strong voice, with all his vintage moves reasonably intact.

Edited into the performance are occasional vintage shots from the professionally-filmed 1969 event. We also briefly hear from the four Stones on a couple occasions, via voiceovers that run over behind-the-scenes footage. Otherwise, this is a well-shot, well-mixed concert that contains nothing in the way of set list surprises. The only deviation from the well-worn nostalgia of iconic hits like “Gimme Shelter,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is the recent single “Doom and Gloom.” While it sits a bit uncomfortably next to the parade of classics, at least it’s a less-familiar inclusion.

The only tune that’s a bit obscure is Keith Richards’ “You Got the Silver,” which automatically makes it a highlight. The aforementioned guest spot by Mick Taylor makes “Midnight Rambler” another winning moment, as is the funky set-closer (of the pre-encore set) “Sympathy for the Devil.” The low point? The insipid soprano sax noodling on “Ruby Tuesday” that left me squinting to see if Kenny G was somewhere onstage (it’s actually Tim Ries).

Eagle Rock’s Blu-ray offers a sterling 1080i, AVC-encoded image. It’s another outstanding high definition concert presentation by one of the consistently best labels releasing such titles. As much as I could do without the many close-ups of near-orgasmic fans, the panoramic shots of the vast audience look terrific during the early, daylight portion of the show. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is very “live” indeed. When Ronnie Wood or Keith Richards hit the occasional bum note, you hear it. Instrumentation is well-defined, with each element easily discernible. Charlie Watts’ drums and longtime touring band member Darryl Jones’ bass kick along palpably in the LFE channel.

Presented as an extra feature, there are three additional songs from the concert that can be played together or accessed separately. Why they simply weren’t incorporated into the main show, in their proper place in the set list, is beyond me. Regardless, it’s nice to have them. In addition to a grooving take on “Emotional Rescue” and a by-rote “Paint It Black,” we get a great rendition of Keith Richards’ “Before They Make Me Run.”

Eagle Rock Entertainment has also released a DVD version of Sweet Summer Sun - Hyde Park Live that includes the concert on two audio CDs.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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