Monday, October 05, 2009

Movie Review: It Might Get Loud

When I was about 10 or 11, my brother (who was ten years older) took me to a movie. I remember him being very fired up about this movie and saying I needed to see it because I liked music and guitar so much.

The theater was really far away and the drive took forever. On the way he told me about this new band he thought I would like. It had two kind of cool guys in it, and two sort of nerdy guys – it was Cheap Trick and he was right, I did like them. I also really liked KISS at the time and was getting way into The Beatles. I was still a year or so away from The Stones, Who, Tubes and Police. And puberty.

But he was about to blow my tiny little mind away by taking me to see The Song Remains The Same.

Whoh, mission accomplished, as GWB would have hung in the theater on a big banner. The place was packed. People were smoking dope and being really loud. It was very overwhelming and exciting and my brother turned to me about every three minutes and said, “are you doing OK?”

Of course the main event was on the screen. What a way to be introduced to Zeppelin. Everything about it was huge. The theater sound system was cranked, and I could only imagine why that bearded guy (manager Peter Grant) blew all those card playing dudes (music industry people) away with a machine gun at the beginning of the movie, and that one dude’s head fell off as colored streams of paint fountained out his neck. Huh!?

The music was of course a lot to take in -- 25 minute Dazed and Confused with violin bow solo and Jimmy Page scaling a mountain to meet a wizard-like version of himself, only to be thrown backwards in time back into the womb? Check. Creepy horse-riding highwayman causing general havoc and then returning home to a lovely dinner in his mansion with his family? Check. Insanely long drum solo? Check. Dragon pants? Check. Golden God? Check. Needless to say, I was never the same again.

Thanks, Johnny.

In the same spirit, I took my 10 and 12 year old boys to see It Might Get Loud this weekend. Not to freak them out on some 70s pseudo devil soundtrack, but to celebrate what I have loved and played for more than 30 years – the electric guitar.

The movie was billed as Jimmy Page (there is that name again), The Edge and Jack White getting together to pretty much talk shop and share stories and observations about the electric guitar.

And we got that. But we got more. A lot more.

The movie tracked Page, White and Edge and how they got into the guitar, what was going on in their lives at the time (all three have great stories of struggle and how music helped them respond), and how they have approached the instrument.

I learned a lot from all three but the one guy I didn’t know at all was Jack White. He is a very interesting dude. Youngest of 10 kids, raised in Detroit in a shitty neighborhood. Likes to make things hard on himself for a challenge, to keep things real. Such as, “If the keyboard is three feet away from me onstage, move it to four feet so I have to run over to play it.” I like that. Complacency is not his deal.

Edge’s story is a bit better known but the background on what was going on in the music industry and in Dublin (lots of strife) when U2 started was fairly eye opening.

Interspersed between the individual stories was footage of the three hanging out on a soundstage, talking about guitars and playing each other riffs. Some pretty cool little jams between all three as well.

Some of the cool scenes:

--Page touring us through the mansion where LZ 4 was recorded and showing the room the drums for When The Levee Breaks were recorded, and how he miked them (from the upper balcony)
--Edge showing how he uses his various effects and pedals – a gear geek’s wet dream
--White writing and recording a song out of the blue on a reel to reel for the movie
--The look on Edge and White’s faces as Page breaks into the Whole Lotta Love riff
--The three jamming on In My Time of Dying, trading slide solos

Anyway, I highly suggest seeing this film is you are a guitar player. It’s a must see, actually. Not sure it changed my kids’ lives or anything, but they really enjoyed it as well and asked when my next gig was. Gotta love that…

If you haven’t seen it yet, the trailer is pretty representative of the movie:

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