The Rolling Stones
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Todd and I went through a flurry of emotions this past Tuesday night when we headed down to the United Center for the 50th Anniversary tour of the Rolling Stones: excitement, anger, frustration, sadness, hopelessness, and then joy and ecstasy. So let’s start from the beginning.
From Todd’s apartment, we blissfully rode our bikes down to the United Center that night, in hopes of scalping a cheap ticket. The Stones were playing a three night stand and the cheapest face value ticket was $150 and the most expensive was upwards of $2000, a price tag we thought only one other artist (Paul McCartney) could pull. So we went down in hopes of getting some cheapish tickets and landed on one guy who seemed honest enough with his wife giving away tickets of friends that couldn’t make the show. The seats were good, and the price even better (considering the seats), so we bought the tickets off him and headed in. All seemed well until we were stopped to get our tickets scanned. Turns out, the tickets we were sold were fakes, and we were stuck ticketless, cashless, and a couple hundred bucks poorer. As if the gods of thunder and rain could feel our frustration, instantaneously as our tickets were rejected, a torrential downpour began outside, perfectly matching our miserable moods.
We headed out for the nearest ATM to get more money which unfortunately was a half mile away in the huge Rush Hospital. Totally soaked and 45 minutes after trying to find an ATM, we arrived back at the United Center only to find that the Stones were going on and there were tons of buyers still lingering but little to no sellers. We found ourselves in a rough place with it looking extremely dire, as I sat outside the ticket entrance and Todd gave it one last run around the building. I must have looked sad and pathetic enough, just like Pooh bear with his paw stuck inside a honey pot, that one box office employee took notice and asked me what my story was. I explained what happened, and not a second later, he went up to will-call, grabbed me two $600 section 100 tickets, and gave them to me at no charge. Our night had been saved; now onto the show.
It’s one thing to see Mick Jagger perform on TV and an entirely different thing to see him live: it’s mindboggling that the nearly 70 year old still has loads of energy, dance moves, and straight up swagger. I would honestly say at this moment, even at his ripe old age, he is still one of the 10 best stage performers on the planet. The band busted through a host of hits, with lead guitarist Ron Wood outshining his more famous band mate and bum pirate Keith Richards, and guest guitarist Mick Taylor, who was the Stones lead guitarist before Wood, outshining both of them in his brief appearances during the show. Drummer Charlie Watts held down the fort in the back as the band just ripped through blues and rock classics.
Beside Jagger’s swagger, the absurd loudness of Keith Richard’s guitar was another big highlight, as he gave Nigel Tufnel a run for his money. “Sympathy for the Devil” as expected killed the crowd before rising from the ashes with a huge Chicago gospel choir on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The show closed on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Satisfaction” which found the band huddled together with Jagger going crazy on the microphone and the dance floor. The site of the band huddled together spurning on Jagger didn’t look like a far cry from 60’s footage I’ve seen of the band in its heyday. But I will let Todd take it from here.
Last time I saw the Stones play Chicago was almost eight years ago, and things played out almost as opposite as they could from last Tuesday. First off, the show was outside at Soldier Field. Second-tive-aly (that’s for our Arrested Development fans out there) last time I had too many tickets, and couldn’t get rid of them. I honestly don’t remember, but if I had to guess, I was forced to sell $90 tickets for $25 because nobody was buying that night. The difference I enjoyed the most however, was the few change-ups to the setlist that helped make this show more memorable than my first. Our seats were also much better this time around, which also only helps matters.
This was the first show of this caliber I have seen in some time. Especially as of recent, I have been in a very small band, smaller venue type mode. Normally I am not one for big arena shows anymore, but I have to say, when they are done this well it’s impossible not to be in awe. Sure Keith doesn’t play quite a fast anymore and Mick’s voice isn’t what it was 40 years ago, but I’ll be damned if they still don’t give it everything they got and the production of the show is just ridiculous.
I do have to challenge Wes’ statement on Mick Taylor outshining Ronnie. I’d put Ronnie as a clear cut favorite seeing as how he was the only true lead of the show, where as Mick played mostly rhythm aside from a few, very standard solo moments. At one point he was even sitting down, cross legged while playing, seemingly completely out of energy. I say give credit to ole’ Ronnie. He played and moved with the energy and enthusiasm of a young Keith Richards. The dude still looks like he could pull off being in a teenage punk band, and he still plays like it too.
Hearing “Satisfaction” live and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” performed with a choir were two treats that I was not gifted last time I saw the Stones, which almost worth the price of admission in itself. The feeling of witnessing such a legendary favorite of mine play some of the greatest rock songs in the history of music is a feeling I can’t really even describe because it’s so surreal. I suppose you can say the proof is in the pudding. After all, consider the fact that after being taken by some low-life prick for a decent amount of money, getting caught in a torrential down-pour, and missing over 30 minutes of the show that I was still grinning ear-to-f***ing-ear, happier than Mick Jagger getting a taste of some brown sugar.