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USA 2004
Directed by
Antoine Fuqua
103 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
4 stars

Lightning In A Bottle

This concert documentary, filmed at Radio City, is a must see for blues fans, and indeed music aficionados everywhere. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, who gave us the splendid 7-film series The Blues a year ago, Lightning in a Bottle is an exhilarating concert experience featuring some of the finest performers ever to strut their blues stuff.

The list of performers is too long to quote here, but some of the standouts are Angelique Kidjo, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty, Robert Cray, Shemekia Copeland, Ruth Brown and Natalie Cole. The duet between Kidjo with her sensual dance moves and Guy (one of the finest blues guitarists) of Hendrix’s "Voodoo Child" is a revelation of sheer energy and delight – for the performers and the viewers.

Though predominantly a concert, the film takes us briefly into some background to the genre, with archival footage of such legendary figures as Leadbelly, Muddy Waters and Son House. In other segments we see the concert performers off stage discussing and reflecting and giving us a verbal insight into their passion. It is also clear that each muso has great respect and admiration for the other, and there is absolute affection and warmth for every artist from the revered ancients through to the relative youngsters.

Director Fuqua energetically moves his camera from close-ups of flying fingers on fretboards, to enraptured singers’ faces, to the entranced audience and back again to wider ensemble stage shots. Overall he manages to enfold us in the pure joy of the experience. It would have be fantastic to be a member of the concert audience but this is as close as we can get, still rewarding.




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