Four Flicks was a four-DVD three-concert box set from the Rolling Stones Hot Licks Tour of 2002-2003, surely the only time in history that a band got so much mileage from a best-selling hits collection released just before (Forty Licks). The Stones have traveled a lot of miles over the past 40 years and Four Flicks proved they can still rock with the best.
There is a lot to recommend here. Three concerts are presented in their entirety. I have never liked concert albums or DVDs that take songs from a number of concerts and piece them together to form the perfect show. Just give me the highs and lows of a complete concert and enable me to experience the good with the bad.
Fortunately, that is the case here, as the three shows are an arena gig from Madison Square Garden, a stadium show from London and a small theater show from Paris. Each of these settings show the Stones in a different light and, in different ways, the group proved it was still one of the better live performers in rock ‘n’ roll.
Disc 1 is the bonus disc, a documentary (the fourth flick, if you will). Don’t watch this one first, as the concerts are much better. But for fans it will be a treat, since it’s one of the better documentaries that I have ever seen or heard. The journey from performance concepts to rehearsals to finally hitting the stage are all chronicled. In addition, interviews with the members of the band and rare concert footage is inserted throughout. There is an old short clip from a concert with Brian Jones that is chilling, while Keith Richards is reflective and talks about living “not a predictable life.” Charlie Watts provides also very interesting commentary, but for me, seeing Bill Clinton introduce the Stones and hearing Mick Jagger sing the scales as a warm up is priceless.
Disc 2 is the Madison Square Garden performance. Ron Wood mentions that he is sober for this tour and it is here that he shines. He plays lead on many of the songs and shows a great deal of versatility. This concert is mostly hits from the early and middle careers of the Stones; “Let It Bleed” and “Midnight Rambler” in the middle of the concert are terrific. The concert comes to a powerful conclusion with “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “When The Whip Comes Down,” “Brown Sugar” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Rock does not get much better than that.
Disc 3 is the stadium concert from Twickenham Stadium in London. I am not a big fan of stadium shows, as I feel they are not nearly as intimate and it’s near impossible to see the band. But here, since the viewer has the best seat in the house, is a chance to see the Stones kick off the leg of the European tour with a fresh vitality. Richards shines here; let’s face it, the man can play these songs with one hand behind his back now while standing in a coconut tree, but here he is focused, his leads are tight and there is wonderful improvisation within the structure of many of the songs. Jagger has room to wander and his strong voice carries show highlights such as “Sympathy For The Devil,” “Paint It Black” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Disc 4 is the Olympia Theater Show in Paris. This show is different; the crowd is on top of the band and Jagger dominates. The choice of songs is eclectic and many rarely-heard tunes make an appearance, which is a treat for the longtime fan even if the songs aren’t stellar performances. A sample of the tunes? “Neighbors,” “No Expectations,” “That’s How Strong My Life Is,” “Going To A Go-Go,” “Love Train,” “Before They Make Me Run” and “Respectable” all get rare appearances in concert form; all but one are songs that only fans would know.
Four Flicks is about six hours of Rolling Stones. This DVD set presents the Stones where they are today and it is a pretty good place to be. There is a combination of energy and maturity that very few rock groups will ever achieve, making Four Flicks a must for any fan of the Stones and any rock fan in general.