OLDER BUT... OLDER: TONY CHECKS OUT THE ROLLING STONES
Once the average ticket price for a Rolling Stones ticket equaled the monthly rent on a studio apartment in the Bronx, I assumed I'd seen them for the last time. The Stones are the Stones, and once they're gone we surely won't see their likes again, and they're still great in concert, and yada yada yada, but frankly, Mick Jagger would have to feed me matzoh ball soup from a porcelain tureen and wipe my chin with a linen napkin afterwards to make a Stones concert worth the prices they're charging.
By an obscene stroke of luck, however, I wound up in the 13th row at Giants Stadium last Wednesday, gaping at the Stones as they defied age and time yet again and put on a professional, rocking two hour show. When they're on, they can still generate a head of steam as hot as any band in the world. Keith is still the coolest guy in the world. Mick still dances like an ass-shakin', hip-wigglin, crazed monkey and somehow never seems to be out of breath. Ron Wood, who went into rehab yet again to prepare for the tour, is somehow even skinnier than he usually is. And Charlie is still Charlie, which is to say one of the handful of greatest drummers in rock history. Sure, they did all the obligatory hits -- "Satisfaction," "Start Me Up," "Brown Sugar," etc., but they also pulled out a lot of chestnuts for the fans, like "Monkey Man," "Sway," "You Got The Silver," and "Just My Imagination."
I don't see how any band can justify $450 tickets, but I've gotta admit the Stones did their damndest to give the fans their money's worth. Fireworks before and after the show; a moving mini-stage that slid towards the back of the stadium for a few songs to give the fans in the "cheap" seats a better look; an enormous inflatable Stones lips-and-tongue logo; huge jets of fire bellowing up during "Sympathy For The Devil;" you name it. And the band didn't slacken for a minute during the show. Even at 112 or however old they are, they can still rock fiercely for two hours a night.
And yet... the years are beginning to take their toll. Mick is still one of the most charismatic performers around, but he avoids going for the high notes whenever possible. And Keith looks bad even for Keith -- he sang a gorgeous, moving "You Got The Silver," but then staggered through "Little T & A," and even got lost during "Satisfaction." For much of the rest of the show he was a non-entity, leaving Ron Wood as the musical compass for the evening.
If you haven't seen the Stones, and you care at all about rock n' roll, they're still a must-see. If you've already seen them and are either an obsessive fan or have just won the lottery, they're worth seeing again. But I'd do it sooner than later. Heaven only knows what kind of shape they're gonna be in come 2012, when they hit the boards for their seemingly inevitable 50th anniversary tour.