My dad’s retiring this year, so I sprung for two concert tickets to the Stones. I had never seen them before–I usually hate big arena shows, and refuse to pay high ticket prices on principle–but figured this was a special occasion, and I love some of their old albums. So I was expecting a moderately entertaining show with all the hits and some great lights, hoping that they wouldn’t be pathetic old geezers living out their last flames of glory.
Well, hell, I hate to feed the beast, but I actually think they’re justified in charging $200 for only-OK seats. Apart from having one of the best back catalogs in rock, they’re still a real band–they extend endings, jam on stage, and change their set from night to night. In fact, they almost melted down on the song “Bitch”–Mick was singing a chorus while the horns played a verse, and the guitarists looked confused–but of course they recovered like a real band always does. (Nice to see the Stones make the same kinds of mistakes and recovery that we seasoned amateurs do.)
Keith was sly and knocked off a few good licks, although he seemed a little stoned at times. The rest of the band was solid, including Bobby Keys on sax. But it’s Mick’s show. People always write about how much energy he has, so I had this image of him doing aerobics and cheesy rock-star poses on stage. Well, he does move around quite a lot, but it’s not the least bit cheesy–he’s a singer, and he acts like one, singing these old songs like he still believes in them 100%. It’s hard to describe what it sounded and felt like, except imagine the best club show you’ve been to, moved to a 20,000-seat arena. In fact, they did this trick where they moved the stage to the center of the arena, very close to us, and they looked like a bar band–five guys with instruments and fairly simple amps on stage just getting down and having fun (their bass player Darryl Jones still uses an 8×10 Ampeg cab, although he’s got some fly white padding, and the guitarists have these vintage brown Fender twins, just like amps you’d see in a club on a Saturday night). Their only concession to rock stardom was wireless everything for easier movement, which I appreciate, having once had one of my bandmates accidentally kick out my cord on stage at the biggest show I ever played.
But the most telling thing–the crowd of super-entitled 40- and 50-something Seattle latte yuppies (not a joint in the whole place, I swear) actually STOOD UP the whole time. When’s the last time you went to an arena show where that happened?
This review from SF paints a good picture.
Say what you want about dinosaurs, I can’t imagine any punk band lasting this long, much less today’s crop of punk-influenced indie rockers who sound great in the studio but don’t know how to play live. (With the possible exception of Wilco, whose live show gets better every year.)