What the hell is going on here? Almost 60 years after they came together in London, the Rolling Stones continue to sell out football stadiums while Mick Jagger prances around the stage like he’s a 22-year-old kid on steroids. Fresh off heart surgery (for which he offered apologies), septuagenarian Jagger and bandmates Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts treated fans to an incredible night of music Sunday July 7, at Gillette Stadium.
Those in attendance heard outstanding versions of classic hits along with a few lesser known tunes, all performed as tight as ever. Early show highlights included the opener “Street Fighting Man,” “It’s Only Rock and Roll,” and “Tumbling Dice.” The concert rarity “She’s So Cold,” from 1980’s Emotional Rescue, was another crowd pleaser, especially for this “late boomer” who happily remembered most of the words. (My entry point to the band was during the late 70’s, Some Girls/Emotional Rescue era.)
Mid-set, the Stones move to a center stage, “at the 50 yard line,” noted Jagger, for an acoustic set. Sunday’s acoustic selections included a couple of deep cuts, “Play with Fire,” along with the country influenced “Dead Flowers,” from the 1971 Sticky Fingers album.
Next came the satanic masterpiece, “Sympathy for the Devil,” most definitely a high point of the show, along with the perfect sing-along, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” “Honky Tonk Women” was next, followed by “Slipping Away,” and “Before They Make Me Run,” both featuring Richards on vocals.
The two-hour-plus show powered through with more hits – including “Brown Sugar,” “Midnight Rambler,” “Paint it Black” and “Miss You” – leading to the raucous encores, “Gimme Shelter” and “Satisfaction.” It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Stones show, but these days, nothing is etched in stone.
The band that rocked the baby boomers a little harder, ok, a lot harder, than “the chosen ones” (The Beatles), always echoed the true unruly nature of rock and roll. And as the record shows, it wasn’t always pretty. Through tragedy, scandal and drug abuse, the core of this band is blues-driven rock. As evidenced at Foxboro, that’s what they still do best.
Some critics suggest the band is irrelevant. Industry types use the term “legacy” to categorize classic rock bands. Of course, relevance is in the eye of the beholder. A band that fills football stadiums night after night is certainly relevant to its fans. The Stones “brand” is known worldwide – check out their recent Netflix movie, “Olé Olé Olé! A Trip Across Latin America,” where they played Cuba for the first time to see I mean.
Sure, we may be 30 years past their best music, and a couple of decades past complaining about high ticket prices, overzealous security, and $14 beers. (That’s the experience you sign up for these days when you invest in a ticket.) What the Stones do right is throw the best party in the world – allowing fans to forget about their troubles for a while and celebrate life.
Another British invasion band famously growled “I hope I die before I get old.” Well, these guys got old, but have stayed young in spirit. And for fans, that’s the whole point of the Rolling Stones.
Check out some photos from WhatsUpRI photographer Rick Farrell below.