Ok, so a little background… Sometime between 8th and 9th grade, after I’d exhausted all the Beatles albums and found myself searching through my dad’s record collection for more old music, I turned to the Rolling Stones. The first album I remember listening to out in the garage was Tattoo You, a mix of pure adrenaline-fueled rock (“Hang Fire” was my favorite) and dreamy, slow-burning ballads that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. Anyway, a few albums and secondhand VHS tapes later, I was hooked. It was like falling in love with the Beatles all over again, except this band had decades of material to catch up on. I went through a particularly fun phase in high school where I went around trying to imitate Keith Richards’ swagger, much to my mom’s horror. And then later, Exile on Main Street became my go-to tour album, and to this day it reminds me looking out the bus window at interstate highways and cornfields and people out on their porches in Mississippi.
Over the last five years or so, I’ve watched at least two Stones tours go by without being able to get tickets (as in, stuck on the Ticketmaster wait page until tix sold out). So when I got word of the tour this year, I was pretty much ready to do anything, including using my mom’s AMEX to get into the presale, blocking off time on my work calendar to buy tickets, and then making my boyfriend drive 500 miles with me to San Diego because it’s the only west coast stop on the tour. And to my infinite happiness, it all worked like a dream! (Don’t worry, I paid my mom back for the tix, and I think Alex had an ok time at the show.)
So that brings us to this past Sunday at the ballpark in San Diego. I have a confession to make here. Two songs in, as the show was just beginning and Mick was singing “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” I may or may not have teared up, JUST A LITTLE, FOR JUST A SECOND. A Rolling Stones concert is not really something to get emotional about, but at that moment they just happened to remind me how I fell in love with music in the first place. It was rock music that did it: the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, all the super famous and not-so-famous bands of the 60s and 70s. My entire musical philosophy can be summed up with that one lyric: It’s only rock ‘n roll, but I like it, OK?! And no matter how many people rag on the Stones for being old men who won’t stop touring, I’m so glad they’re still going, because it gives people like me a chance to experience a little slice of rock history.
– “Midnight Rambler.” This song is epic already, but the live version is a whole ‘nother experience. I kept thinking about the quote from Crossfire Hurricane about how it’s the epitome of Jagger-Richards songwriting. Definitely my favorite part of the show.
– Keith’s brain fart. I knew from watching concert videos that Keith always does his few songs after Mick introduces the band, about halfway through. And I was super excited to hear what songs he’d sing. The first one was “Slippin’ Away,” a classic Keef slow jam, followed by some rambling (I literally couldn’t understand a thing the man said, haha). Then he played the first few chords of “Can’t Be Seen” before being reminded by Ronnie that they were supposed to do “Before They Make Me Run,” which is one of my favorites! Yessss. Did not disappoint.
– The moves like Jagger. The flailing arms, pointy fingers, and spastic clapping were in full play, and it was a beautiful sight. On top of that, Mick sprinted and power-skipped down the catwalk with more energy than I could probably muster in my entire life. HOW DOES HE DO IT?? Another random observance: I think he enjoys putting on different jackets just so he can rip them off. Which he can totally do, because’s he’s got a hot bod YES I SAID IT.
Other noteworthies: Taking the MTS trolley for the first time, rallying with a bunch of baby boomers, Ronnie’s sparkly shoes, and Mick’s very British, very articulated way of saying “Petco Park.”
There were no lowlights, of course, but I *was* a little disappointed that they didn’t play more Sticky Fingers, as was rumored. I was especially hopeful because they did the whole album at the LA show just a few nights before. But I read part of an interview with Mick that said he was concerned because it has 5 slow songs on it and they were worried that people would use it as a bathroom break. Ummm ok, maybe the basic people would, but without a doubt that would’ve been the highlight of the show for me. I was dying to hear “You Gotta Move” and “Dead Flowers”! “Wild Horses” would’ve been nice, too. They did play “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” (cue the stoners in the next row lighting up), “Bitch,” and “Moonlight Mile,” which was amazing.
I got a second wave of uninvited emotion when at the very end, after the extended band had taken their bows, it was just Mick, Keith, Charlie, and Ronnie on the stage, arms around each other, looking like a joyful band of old, scraggly brothers. D’awwww. As long as these guys can keep going and sound good, I sure hope they do.
Supplemental Materials: 1) me doing my best 70’s Keef impression; 2) view from nosebleed seats; 3) a picture from the San Diego Union Tribune of the guys’ final encore (how cute is Charlie with his yellow socks?!)