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Three days after Brian Jones’ death, the Rolling Stones held a free con­cert in Lon­don’s Hyde Park, which at­tracted half a mil­lion con­cert­go­ers. Stephen Daw­son re­views a Blu-ray that cap­tures the event so well that you can imag­ine you’re ac­tu­ally there.

On the evening of 2 July 1969 Brian Jones, a Rolling Stones founder, died. It was one month after he’d been fired. On 5 July the band took to the stage for a pre-planned free con­cert in Hyde Park, Lon­don, their first public ap­pear­ance for a cou­ple of years. Thanks to Granada TV, we have a record of most of it, and that’s what ap­pears on this disc.

The main 56-minute pro­gram con­sists al­most en­tirely of per­for­mances by The Stones, with some in­ter­ludes show­ing the youth of the day— some­where be­tween quar­ter and half a mil­lion at­tended— some re­marks on the Iron Cross-em­bla­zoned Hells An­gels se­cu­rity, some Jag­ger in­ter­view ex­cerpts, and Jag­ger’s eu­logy to Brian Jones.

The great­est per­for­mance of all time? Heck no. The then 25-year-old Mick Jag­ger’s vo­cals only ap­prox­i­mated the pitch of many notes. The gui­tars were re­put­edly out of tune, although that was less ob­vi­ous to my ears. Things were pretty wild. And the whole thing is truly great.

There’s an en­ergy in their live per­for­mances which is as much vis­ual as acous­tic. Jag­ger’s aban­don in per­for­mance is oc­ca­sion­ally mes­meris­ing. And at the end in Sym­pa­thy for the Devil there’s hon­est-to-good­ness paw­ing at Jag­ger by pretty young things, along with a stage in­va­sion. We can’t go back to those days, but to some ex­tent they’re pre­served on discs such as this.

The picture is grainy and aged, but au­then­tic-seem­ing. It was shot on film and the Blu-ray cap­tures it very faith­fully. I won­der, 24 frames per sec­ond or 25? The lat­ter seems likely given this was for Bri­tish TV. In that case this 24p pre­sen­ta­tion would be slightly lower in pitch than re­al­ity.

The sound is mono and of mod­est qual­ity. The bet­ter your sys­tem, the more co­her­ence you’re likely to ex­tract from it. There’s a Dolby Dig­i­tal 5.1 mix which cre­ates a kind of weird sur­round am­bi­ence without any spe­cific lo­ca­tions of the sound el­e­ments. I’d sug­gest the LPCM 2.0 mono mix, which is most au­then­tic for the time.

There are three ad­di­tional songs, without au­dio for two of them (they’re in­cluded as a doc­u­men­tary record). The one which does in­clude au­dio is re­peated in a sep­a­rate ti­tle with the same sound treat­ment as the main pro­gram.

I should warn about one odd­ity in the disc. The main menu is dis­con­cert­ing. It fea­tures a loop of video, as they so of­ten do, but there’s no au­dio. I was flip­ping switches and won­der­ing if some­thing in my sys­tem had bro­ken be­fore it oc­curred to me to check whether there ac­tu­ally was any sound.

Fi­nally, keep an eye out for a dead ringer for Paul McCart­ney, or per­haps it was ac­tu­ally him, wan­der­ing through the frame at 54:24.


Run­ning time: 56 min­utes Picture: 1.33:1 (masked), 1080p24*, MPEG4 AVC @ 30.00Mbps Sound: English: Dolby Dig­i­tal 3/2.1 @ 640kbps; English: LPCM 16/48 2/0.0 @ 1536kbps Sub­ti­tles: Nil Fea­tures: Ad­di­tional song (1080p24* - 7 mins); Un­seen Songs (1080p24* - 28 mins); 4 pe­riod TV footage seg­ments (576i50 - 35 mins) Re­stric­tions: G, Re­gion Free

Di­rec­tor: Nor­man Jewi­son Star­ring: James Caan, John House­man, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn, Pamela Hens­ley and Bar­bara Tren­tham. Movie: A| Picture: C| Sound: C| Ex­tras: B

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