Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gimme Shelter

A classic depiction of the Stones in their pomp and the debacle that was Altamont. Much is made of Altamont being the obverse of Woodstock - the place where the hippie dream died. Hardly. Altamont happened because the Stones and their advisors bought into the romantic outsider myth of the Hells Angels and made the disastrous decision to hire them as security for the concert. The Hells Angels took over and did as Angels do. There's one telling scene where a phalanx of them and their bikes drove straight the assembled crowd to a vantage point beside the stage. The peaceful blissed out crowd parted like the Red Sea to let them through. As the concert progressed the Angels grew more drunk and belligerent - crowding the stage, emanating menace, administering random beatings, and at one stage taking over the PA system. For all the Stones posturing with Sympathy for the Devil and Street Fighting Man, when confronted with the real thing all they could do was bleat ineffectually. There's a great scene involving a bearded ponchoed Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead, blinking like some great wooly woodland creature as a lackey told him of the mayhem on stage "they hit Marty man". The Dead returned to their chopper and fled.