The greatest dinosaurs in the world

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.)

My only complaint was the set list. I wish I’d seen the San Diego show instead–the tripleshot of “Tears,” “Midnight Rambler,” and “Rocks Off” would have made me pass out.


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