Although they may not open with a banner announcing themselves as the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, their Bigger Bang Tour proves that The Rolling Stones are, indeed, the best band out there.
Alright, dates have been changed from the 18th to the 22nd, tickets are about $100 (even after student discounts), the stadium is huge – even for $100 dollars you are in the cheap seats – and the band is, mostly, well into their sixties. Yet none of this stopped me from being excited about seeing these legends of rock ‘n’ roll; of course, this also left plenty of room for disappointment.
Bonnie Raitt opened the show with an hour-long set of country-blues songs that sounded good and did the job of leaving the meager crowd hungering for some rock. People continued to file in during her set, and a little after nine the band took the stage to a full house.
The lights went dark and then Keith Richards could be seen running, yes Keith ran, to the front of the stage to meet the spotlight in time for the first chords of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” The crowd went crazy, and the only thing more shocking than seeing old, rich, mostly white people, get raunchy, was how active the band was. Mick Jagger took control of the audience, and no matter what he did, the crowd loved it. Keith Richards…moved! He spun, danced, ran, walked, spent a lot of time bent with his guitar around his knees and he never stopped smiling. Ronnie Wood strummed right up to the crowd and Charlie Watts beat away on his drums like he couldn’t understand what the big deal was. After rocking “It’s Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)” and “Let’s Spend The Night Together” Mick took the time to say hello to the crowd and apologized for the late start – apparently, they waited for the stadium to fill up because The Rolling Stones understand that traffic in L.A. sucks for us normal people. After “She Was Hot” Mick thanked Bonnie Raitt for the opener and was joined by her halfway through “Dead Flowers.” Then, the band broke into a heartfelt rendition of “Streets of Love,” from their newest album A Bigger Bang, the best Stones ballad since “Angie.” Two songs in a row that didn’t threaten to blow out the speakers on their 80 foot high stage was enough for The Glimmer Twins and Co. because their hard-hitting rendition of “All Down the Line” was followed by an amazing “Midnight Rambler.” Apparently nobody took the time to inform the four members of the band that they are white, because they had rhythm, blues and soul that were infectious, and not normally associated with white people.
I am going to take a minute, to comment on the take of “Midnight Rambler” that was performed on the glorious night of Nov. 22nd, 2006. For those of you who are not familiar with this terrific song, it is from, the 1969 response to The Beatles Let It Be, Let It Bleed, and it is one of the few Stones’ songs to have a tempo change in it. On the album it starts at a moderate tempo, speeds up in the middle of the song before nearly stopping before returning to the starting tempo. During the concert, the song started with Mick grabbing a harmonica and belting out the first riff alone before Keith jumped in and did a one man take on the bluesy riff, finished by Charlie Watts drumming the response louder than ever. After getting through a few verses and the chorus a few times, the pace was slowed until it was only Mick screaming into the microphone and the audience yelling back in a way that was reminiscent of the hollers the blues was based on. Yes, I saw seventy-year-old, grey-haired men yelling back at a tight-shirted sex icon of the ’60s and ’70s. At times I thought the band was just going to start a new song because the silence between the lyrics was so long. But as Mick continued on his end Charlie, Keith and Darrel Jones (the bassist playing with the band) started to pick up the tempo again capturing the energy in the 56,000-seat stadium. It was simple, it was loud, it was nine minutes long, it was the best rendition of the song I have ever heard, it was better than I could I have ever expected, it was Charlie Watt’s moment that proved to me that he indeed is the best drummer the Stones could wish for. It was proof that The Rolling Stones are still the greatest rock and roll band in the world.
After finishing “Paint It, Black,” the band retreated and it seemed the show was over, until, after a few minutes, the entire band ran back on stage to do “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” louder than I have ever heard it. I expected the show to end there, but then hundreds of thousands of fireworks rocketed into the air only to be drowned out by the vibrant ringing of “Brown Sugar.” The song lasted about six minutes, and not nearly long enough, before the music stopped and the band took their bow to a standing ovation from more than 60,000 people.
Their latest CD may have not been the best selling album they have released, merely going platinum, but their stage show is what the Stones got huge on and now a whole new generation can see why. The Rolling Stones may not be the youngest band around, but after over 40 years they have proved, over and over again, that they are the best. I mean: I know, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll …but I like it…like it, yes I do.