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Michelle and I before the big show
Excellent opening band
The tour is literally sponsored by the AARP
Mick and Keith
Some kind of poll. “Emotional Rescue” won. Mick still can sing falsetto
Sympathy for the Devil
The cell phones were out for “Wild Horses”
Closing image. Hopefully, not for the last time!
Rolling Stones official post-concert communication
The Playlist (as illustrated by Ronnie Wood)
Rolling Stones official promotional art specific to this concert. The lips and tongue as a Boston Cream pie.

Satisfaction: The Rolling Stones at Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts

What is it we just saw? That was the first thing me wife asked as we departed The Rolling Stones concert at Gillette Stadium last night (May 30, 2004).

I immediately understood what she was asking. We just saw two 80-year olds and a spry 76er perform for more than two straight hours, no breaks, moving like…well, one of them very much was moving like Jagger. Nearly 60 years after first playing Boston, The Rolling Stones looked and sounded like The Rolling Stones. While, sure enough, you can’t always get what you want, we got it last night.

This was the fifth time I’ve seen the Stones. The first was in 1998– I was wearing my Bridges to Babylon Tour shirt last night. This was the nearest thing to a greatest hits show I’ve seen from them. Not a lot of deep cuts or unusual arrangements last night. The slight— slight downside is that the Stones’ new record— Hackney Diamonds— is great! We’ve been listening to it at home and were hoping for more than two songs from the album. But you know, sometimes you can’t always get… sorry— I already used that one.

Mick Jagger sounded great. He hit the high notes for “Emotional Rescue.” He moved with the same liquidity that he’s been moving with since Tina Turner taught him how to dance. And, I’m being unfair by suggesting we should have expected something different because of his age— had he given the same performance 40 years ago, I would have been writing about how great he was then, too.

But the age thing is uncanny. The show is, as you might expect, big. This was a 70,000+ seat stadium. There’s a big stage, with big, HD screens, so, while that actual band on the actual stage looked from our seats much the same as they would have in the past, the enormous closeups showed Mick, Keith and Ronnie to be very, very old. Leave the Botox to the 30-year olds.

I remember years ago watching Frank Sinatra perform on television and thinking specifically that Mick Jagger wouldn’t be able to do what Frank was doing when Mick was Frank’s age. Their style of music is too different. Mick is now older than Sinatra was at the time and he killed it.

I keep going on about Mick— but Keith Richards was Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood— the youngest but looking like the oldest, well he sounded like Ronnie Wood. And, as you’d expect, the backup band was superb, including Bowie alumn Bernard Fowler, drummer Steve Jordan, taking on the task of replacing Charlie Watts and the Tina Turner-like Chanel Haynes providing backing vocals and the standout female voice on “Gimme Shelter” (she’s actually played Tina Turner in the stage musical, Tina).

There was an element of the historical to this show. It was the 100th concert at Gillette Stadium, which means little to me but added to that sense that this was a momentous occasion. And the other thing that happened yesterday was that Donald Trump was convicted. That has even less to do with the Stones’ actual show than the thing about the stadium, but it is another reason this day won’t be forgotten. Two indelible images in my mind for May 30th.

Unlike, say, the last time we saw Bowie, we were acutely aware that this might be the last time we see The Rolling Stones. I hope not. The experience is a commune— a commune with the millions who will see them on this tour, the millions more who have ever seen them, and the more still who have heard them. Its a commune that spans space— they’ve played everywhere on Earth— and time— surely many have seen them who had living memory of the 19th Century, and although most of the audience of last night’s show were also aging, there were some children who will remember the experience well into the 22nd. Seeing the Rolling Stones is part of the human experience, and I hope to have the opportunity again and again.

But if not, that band left nothing on the table last night. It is an amazing show. The Stones used to be called the greatest rock band on the planet. Last night they made a very strong case that they still are.


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