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Sunday, November 04, 2007

THE PASSING SHOW: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF RONNIE LANE DVD

Life is hard and then you die, so goes the old saying.
The late great Ronnie Lane had an intimate knowledge of the vague truth behind this saying. Yet, it appears that while life indeed was hard for him, he lived it to the fullest, the best that he knew how, even in the face of a crippling disease.
One could say that Lane was a touch naïve, that he never let the darker side of life get to him but cantered through his life in blissful ignorance of sinister elements. Perhaps that is why, despite all his prodigious talent and being part of two successful bands viz. the Small Faces and the Faces, Lane lived on the edge of poverty and never enjoyed the financial rewards of his efforts.
All this is captured vividly in this documentary which highlights an aspect of Lane, not too well known amongst rock music enthusiasts, that is, Lane’s ‘escape’ from the glamour of 70s rock into the pastoral, rootsy existence that he carved out for himself as a solo artists, with his band, Slim Chance.
The first part of the DVD documents Lane’s ‘popular’ phase when as part of the Small Faces and the Faces, he enjoyed fame and success, though unfortunately little economic benefits.
This would be due to dodgy contracts in the former case and disenchantment with the rock scene in the latter case.
Which would lead Lane into the ‘new’ acoustic, rootsy direction and the Passing Show – an ambitious grass-roots tour of the smaller towns and villages of the UK, in which Lane and band, accompanied by a troupe of dancers, clowns, jugglers and fire-eaters, played in a big top and traveled in a fleet of antiquated trucks – which was a commercial train wreck.
Tragically, around this time, Lane would be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis which he carried with him until his demise in 1997.
The Passing Show tells Lane’s story through interviews with Lane and good friends like Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Ian McLagen, Kenney Jones and many others and of course, live performances.
It’s a lovely documentary that will touch your heart and open your eyes and hopefully, lead people to discover Lane’s wonderful music post-Faces, the back-to-basics style that has influenced many musicians to this day.
But through it all, the highs and lows and incredible hardships, you get the sense that Lane accepted the life that was dealt to him and with zest and vitality. And in the words of that classic Faces song – “Ooh La La”… A+

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