On a tighter theater stage, with a little less room for Mick Jagger to be Mick Jagger, and a sonic mix heavy on Keith Richards and Ron Wood and their weaving six-strings, this concert DVD from Los Angeles shot during the Rolling Stones’ 40th anniversary tour showcases the legends as a swaggering and synergetic guitar band propelling an indefatigable frontman. In November of 2002, the Stones brought the Licks world tour to the City of Angels, and that’s what the VIP, capacity crowd at the famed Wiltern got: flash after flash of hot licks from Richards and Wood, and, of course, plenty of moves from Jagger. And, with a setlist that ventured into some of the rarities of the iconic group’s immense and historic catalog, it was another night rolling with majesty and magic.

Probably never more animated and feisty during this two-hour set than on “Stray Cat Blues”- dusted off as a nod to their late ‘60s heyday- Jagger shone as the unrelenting ringleader he’d ascended to and maintained over the previous four decades; the sinewy, sexed-up, street tough strutting into another party, flanked by his guitar-slinging bandits, and his (on this night, ebullient) rock of a timekeeper in Charlie Watts. Even in thousand-dollar custom-fits, the Stones are still just the right amount of ragged, working through several shirt-changes, after “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Live With Me,” and “Neighbours,”- alone, a trio of tunes spanning three distinct eras of the Stones’ story- opened the sweaty show.

About halfway in, the Stones welcomed Solomon Burke, who served as the night’s support, for a take on Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” and a coronation of sorts for Jagger and the Stones as kings of rock-and-roll. They played off the pomp, with Jagger repeating Richards’ joke that three Stones could fit inside Burke’s spacious and regal purple cape. It’s a punchline, and accurate, but also a sly and humble nod from the boys in acknowledging Burke’s huge early influence on them, and, really, all of music. 

It also sums up a relatively diverse set, which shifts- after Richards’ back-to-back on “Thru and Thru” and “You Don’t Have To Mean It”- into the run of warhorses and workouts that includes a blistering “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and an always punchy “Bitch,” flourishing at the finish line with “Start Me Up,” Brown Sugar,” and a “Tumbling Dice” encore. Even without the massive expansive of a stadium stage, Jagger still manages to find every space to sway and sprint as though it was the Rose Bowl, as Richards routinely tosses guitar picks to the devoted riding the front row rail. All in all, it’s a satisfyingly classic Stones rock-and-roll circus, albeit scaled back in size, but certainly not in stamina, sizzle, or style.