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Gregg Gelfand
Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen

Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary concert with special guests Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen and more.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English LPCM Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 142 min.
Price: $35.98
Release Date: 2/10/2023

• 3 Bonus Live Performances
• CD Copy
• Booklet


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Rolling Stones: GRRR Live [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 28, 2023)

Due to my advanced age, I remember when it seemed remarkable that the Rolling Stones hit their 25th anniversary in the 1980s. 2022 brought the band’s 60th anniversary, one commemorated by a short European tour.

10 years earlier, the Stones marked their 50th with a few short “warmup” shows in France before they did full-length arena performances in London and the New York area. Though not announced as the band’s final concerts, it sure felt that way at the time.

Of course, that sounds silly a decade later, and it soon proved wrong, as the Stones went out on a mini-tour of North America in spring/summer 2013, with two UK dates as well. But as a fan in 2012, that short batch of concerts gave off the vibe that the band might finally have reached the end of the road.

The last of the right full-length concerts took place on December 15, 2012 at Newark’s Prudential Center. Shot for a TV special, the show covered various aspects of the band’s career and involved a mix of guest stars as well. This is what we get for a Blu-ray entitled GRRR Live.

2012 brought the umpteenth Stones “best of” album, GRRR, and the Stones delivered two new songs for it. Both of them – “Doom and Gloom” and “One More Shot” – appear in this concert.

We need to go back 31 years for the next-newest song in the set, 1981’s “Start Me Up”. 1978 provides “Miss You” and “Before They Make Me Run”, while 1974 delivers “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (And I Like It)”.

1972 boasts “Happy” and “Tumbling Dice”, the last of which features guest Bruce Springsteen. 1971 involves “Brown Sugar”, “Dead Flowers” and “Wild Horses”, while 1969 boasts “Gimme Shelter” (with Lady Gaga), “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, “Honky Tonk Women” and “Midnight Rambler” (with former Stone Mick Taylor).

1968 covers two songs, with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Sympathy For the Devil”. 1966 offers “Paint It Black” while 1965 delivers “Get Off My Cloud” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, and “The Last Time”.

Two covers also appear. We get Don Nix’s “Going Down” (with guests Gary Clark Jr. and John Mayer) and Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” (with the Black Keys).

I attended this concert as well as the prior show on December 13. As I mentioned, I thought these might be the Stones’ final shows, and I wasn’t going to miss them.

As also noted, the Stones kept rolling past 2012 – and will probably tour again in 2023 – but no one took that for granted. Heck, the inclusion of “The Last Time” – not a setlist staple across the decades – offered a wink at this concept.

Ironically, the two Newark shows marked my second stab at “final Stones concerts”. The Stones did a two-year-plus tour to support 2005’s A Bigger Bang and ended in London circa August 2007.

Those gave off that “end of the road” vibe, so I flew out to see the last two concerts of the tour. Sure, they weren’t the finish of the band by a long shot, but hey, I got a nice five-day trip to London and added two Prince concerts to the pair of Stones shows, so I won’t complain.

I’ve seen the Stones another 15 or so times since the concert depicted on this disc, so the big question becomes: what do I specifically remember from December 15, 2012?

The answer: Gaga. To be fair, I’m totally in the bag for Gaga, as she’s easily my favorite musical artist of the 21st century, and it’s not even close.

There’s no better live performer out there today, and Gaga delivers the goods in spades during her turn on “Gimme Shelter”. Even from my not-so-great seats at the Prudential Center in 2012, I could tell how Gaga blew the roof off the arena.

That power and energy remains obvious on Blu-ray as well. If not the greatest frontman of all-time, Mick Jagger remains high on the list, but Gaga takes over for this song.

Gaga owns the stage during “Gimme Shelter” and puts Jagger in the unusual position of needing to keep up with her. Everyone in the band seems to love her performance – we even get a rare grin from usually taciturn drummer Charlie Watts – and Gaga’s appearance becomes the concert’s high point. (I saw the Stones and Gaga on consecutive nights in Paris July 2022, but alas, no guest spots occurred at either show.)

Other memories of the show remain less specific, though I maintain a recollection of how much Mayer’s guitar work impressed me. Granted, I saw him two days earlier at the December 13 show – with a version of “Respectable” we find as a bonus feature here – and I’ve seen Mayer with the Stones on other occasions as well, though I think those shows occurred after 2012.

In any case, Mayer boasts tremendous musical skills, and with Clark, he helps make “Going Down” the second high point of the show. I don’t love the blues, but the band tears apart the stage with an incendiary version.

A minor disappointment comes with Springsteen’s appearance on “Tumbling Dice”. I love Bruce and have seen him live 130-plus times, so obviously I know what a great performer he is.

But for whatever reason, Springsteen just doesn’t mesh especially well for “Dice”. The song just feels like an awkward fit for Bruce, so while his guest spot doesn’t fizzle, it fails to live up to (admittedly high) expectations.

Bruce works great with guests at his shows, like when Bono came out in Miami 2002. But when Bruce guests at other artists’ concerts - such as with McCartney in 2017 - the results tend to be fine but less impressive.

Diehard Stones fans looked forward to the return of 1969-74 Stone Mick Taylor, though the fact he appeared only on one song became a disappointment. Folks hoped he’d play a more active role in the show.

Taylor did at least participate in “Satisfaction” along with “Rambler” on the 2013 dates, but that felt ever weirder. A handful of anniversary shows was one thing, but why bother to take Taylor on the road just to play on a mere two songs?

Anyway, I know a lot of fans tire of “Rambler” live, but I’m not one of them. On any given night, it will likely become a highlight, as it offers a true barnbuster, especially when Jagger really gets into it.

The Stones rarely do wrong by “Rambler”, but it feels like a bad match for the Taylor guest spot. They should’ve brought out “Sway” or “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”, songs where he shined on the studio versions and songs better suited to his style.

Here Taylor becomes a distraction more than anything, as he noodles his way through the song. “Rambler” doesn’t need him, so while it was cool to see him back in the fold after nearly 40 years, his work didn’t add to the song.

Note that original bassist Bill Wyman did a pair of songs at the two London shows but he didn’t play the US dates. This occurred either because he didn’t want to travel or because he didn’t like being used only for a token appearance – or both.

As for the Black Keys… meh. I saw them open for Pearl Jam a few times years ago and they impressed me in that setting, but their appearance here seems forgettable and becomes the weakest of the various guest spots.

As for the non-guest portions of the concert, they work fine. As implied, I’ve seen the Stones live a lot – 62 times as of 2022 – so I know pretty well what to expect from them.

GRRR Live offers a very good Stones show, if not quite the toppermost. It’s not a concert that really zings – unlike Roseland 2002 or London Night Two 2007 or Paris 2022, performances that floored me – but it’s consistently strong and at the high end of 21st century Stones.

That said, I expect I’ll revisit this show plenty of times in the future. The guests help give it a little spark, and the Stones simply sound very good throughout the concert – even if the usually reliable Charlie botches the opening to “The Last Time”.

The Blu-ray appears to replicate the TV special without any additional editing or sprucing up, and I regard that as a positive. This means we get a fairly basic presentation of the concert, one without gimmicks or nonsense.

Many live shows on video threaten to become nearly unwatchable due to the quick cutting and visual tricks. GRRR Live could use a little refining, to be sure, as it lacks polish and can feel “basic”.

This means the end product looks like what it is: a concert “edited” on the fly as a live broadcast. As noted, it could use some work, but if asked to choose between a “meat and potatoes” concert presentation and the “busy” offerings we often get, I’ll take the former 100 times out of 100.

At the very least, the Blu-ray conveys a good impression of the concert. While it may stick with the basics, it lets us view the show in a positive manner and replicates the performance well.

All of this leaves GRRR Live as a highly satisfying concert Blu-ray. Crud, I’d love it just for the Gaga guest spot, but the rest of it proves pretty terrific as well. I won’t call this the best Stones live video, but I like it an awful lot.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Rolling Stones: GRRR Live appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a satisfying view of the concert.

Sharpness mostly seemed solid. Occasionally, wide shots came across as a little soft and ill defined. However, those examples appeared infrequently and did little to distract from the rest of the presentation, which usually looked concise and detailed.

I noticed no issues with jagged edges and I also detected no signs of edge haloes. The video screen behind the band inevitably caused some shimmering, but that didn’t distract. Source flaws looked absent, and I saw no issues related to artifacting, noise, or other distractions.

Most of the color variation came from lighting, as the musicians mainly sported dark clothes. Keith and Mick both boasted some aqua tops and Keith had a purple shirt, however, and that was about it for bright garb, as even the usually flamboyant Lady Gaga opted for a black/white/gold bodysuit. With some blue, red, green and purple lights, the hues looked well developed and accurate.

Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots came across as clear and appropriately visible. GRRR wasn’t the most attractive concert video I’ve seen, but it nonetheless seemed quite positive.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Dolby Atmos soundfield remained focused on the front, where it showed strong stereo imaging. Lead vocals appeared firmly set in the middle.

The instruments were accurately located and they demonstrated nice breadth and delineation. I could distinguish the various instruments with ease, as they were placed in a natural and clear manner. They also blended together smoothly to create a forward soundstage that consistently created a real and involving setting.

As for the surrounds, they mostly featured crowd noise. They added a little reinforcement of the music, but not to a substantial degree.

The track didn’t go for much “free-form” use of the surrounds such as the presentation of specific instrumentation there. We got some showy placement at times, though.

For instance, when Keith and Ronnie hit the circular catwalk around the pit, their guitars rotated around the sonic spectrum as well. However, most of the soundfield went with a pretty standard concert approach.

Audio quality was solid. Vocals worked fine, as they replicated the desired impressions well. The rest of the track also showed good clarity and a fairly dynamic tone, as the instruments remained crisp during the concert.

At times I thought bass response could’ve been a little deeper, as the track was marginally thin during some tracks. This wasn’t a true issue – more of a preference – so it didn’t detract terribly from the presentation. Taken as a whole, the audio seemed satisfactory.

Note that the disc also included a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. Although I focused on the Atmos track, I also sampled the 5.1 version.

In terms of soundscape, both seemed similar. The 5.1 edition used the surrounds in a moderately more active manner, but that didn’t seem like a major change.

However, the 5.1 track sounded a lot “hotter” than the Atmos mix. This meant I needed to turn down the volume substantially when I switched.

As such, the 5.1 tended to feel more “in your face” and brickwalled. I thought the Atmos offered superior sonics and simply felt more natural than the overly aggressive 5.1 mix.

In terms of extras, the Blu-ray boasts three bonus performances. These come from other 2012 concerts and give us “Respectable” with guest John Mayer (5:15) as well as “Around and Around” (3:09) and “Gimme Shelter” (6:40).

Shot at the Newark concert two days before the full show on this disc, “Respectable” and “Around” offer a nice bonus since the Stones didn’t play those December 15. As for “Shelter”, it allows a contras to the Gaga version, as it features long-time Stones backing singer Lisa Fischer on the Merry Clayton parts.

Given that Fischer had to take a backseat on the pay-per-view, it’s nice that the Blu-ray allows her that usual spotlight. Unfortunately, she seems off-key here, so this doesn’t become the usually excellent singer’s best performance.

Note that the three bonus songs can be heard with either LPCM stereo or DTS-HD DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio. Unfortunately, they lack the Atmos option found with the main show.

The package also provides a two-CD reproduction of the concert. This drops a little material from the show – like the drummers who opened the concert and some between-song chatter.

Nonetheless, I like the audio-only option. It’s good to easily be able to screen the show on the go, though it’s too bad the CDs lack the three bonus songs.

Finally, the set comes with a booklet. It includes a gushing essay from music journalist Paul Sexton, credits and photos.

50 years into their existence, GRRR Live showed that the Rolling Stones still performed at a high level after all that time. (And they still do after 60 years, but that is a different topic.) Along with some well-chosen guests, this December 2012 concert brings a pretty terrific show. The Blu-ray boasts strong picture and audio along with some bonus songs and a two-CD version of the concert. This ends up as a very good Stones release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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