The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones
Oracle Arena
Oakland, CA
May 5, 2013

The two main narratives regarding the Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary tour are: 1. Man, those old guys are old and 2. Man, those pricy ticket prices are pricy!  Never let it be said that critics don’t grasp the obvious.  Yes, those guys are old, it’s their 50th anniversary tour.  That’s 50 years, not 50 days.  The Rolling Stones were touring the US before I was born.  Mick Jagger &Co. were a fact of life from when I was learning to crawl.  And, yes, $2000 for VIP tickets is a lot of money.  Good thing it was my birthday and I have a girlfriend who likes to rock!  Actually, we didn’t pay $2000 ($86/song) or $1500 for the tongue pit in front of the stage ($65/song) or even $600 for the floor ($26/song) or even the lowest price $175 tickets since they were all sold out.  Instead, we joined the lottery for $85 tickets ($3/song).   The lottery system could be an entire blog post on its own; suffice to say we didn’t win the lottery and were ensconced rather high up in the arena.  But we could see fine and it was The Stones and it was My Birthday.  So, party on, Garth!

So, yes, the Rolling Stones are old guys.  Older than the US Supreme Court.  Though I don’t know anyone who would pay $2000 to see Antonin Scalia do the rooster.  For old guys, they are more than a little spry.  Mick Jagger has got the moves like Jagger.  He’s got the moooooves like Jagger.  Mick’s dance style with seal claps, and jabby pointing and spinning has always vaguely resembled an old guy trying to get down and now he actually is an old guy getting down.  He scampered back and forth across the stage and around the catwalk nonstop.  It’s no small accomplishment for him to sing at the same time and with the same defiant and teasing voice as when he was 20. I was tired just watching him.  

I also don’t know how Keith Richards is still standing but he is.  At times, he seemed to teeter precariously close to just collapsing on stage.  And his playing certainly isn’t what it once was.  Thankfully Ronnie Wood is back with the gang and can still play a mean guitar.  Of course, KR’s main contribution to The Stones’ history has always been the unforgettable hooks and he can still provide that.

Tom Waits and the Stones
Mick Taylor returns
Also joining The Stones on stage was Tom Waits for Little Red Rooster.  Let me repeat that:  Tom Waits joined RS for Little Red Rooster.  Awesomeness!  Many people can’t handle his very gravelly voice but it was perfect for the tiny scarlet fowl.  And his appearance was probably the highlight of the night when they played a number of less known bluesy tunes.  One more much anticipated guest joining in the fray later in the show was former Stones guitarist Mick Taylor who kind of wandered around the stage a little lost but was enthusiastically greeted by all the band and the audience.  It would have been great to have guests throughout the night.  

There was a monster screen behind the band that was used well: showing videos, live shots and, at one point, a montage of old R&B artists that influenced the Stones during their 50 years.  It’s hard to think of a current band that could do the same.  Will Vampire Weekend or My Morning Jacket be playing shows after 50 years?  I doubt it.  There are plenty of acts past their prime playing Vegas, locked in a time capsule performing parodies of themselves, but The Stones have avoided that trap.  Their longevity is a testament to their once in a generation quality.  There will never be another Rolling Stones.

There isn’t much that can be said about the Stones that hasn’t been said.  Many of their songs have been overplayed by FM radio which is understandable because they are rock and roll canon.   At Sunday’s show, they added new life to one big hit after the next including Gimme Shelter and Brown Sugar and Sympathy for the Devil and You Can’t Always Get What You Want and Tumbling Dice.  The 50th Anniversary tour has all the hallmarks of a farewell tour and the band seemed in some ways to recognize the unlikelihood of another outing when taking their curtain call, savoring the cheers and each other's company.  Having accomplished all they have and survived this long, I can only say, well done, lads.

1 comment:

Bob Weir, Albany CA said...

Tom Waits! Little Red Rooster! Yes, that does sound really great... funny that those two data points, the least traditionally RS stuff, was the highlight of the show.