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It’s Only Rock and Roll…

Last night, the Rolling Stones gave us a convincing demonstration that "old" is a state of mind, and nothing more.  Four fit, and energetic guys cranked out crowd pleasing favorites for three hours, in front of over 40,000 fans. The show opened with a bang — literally.  Fireworks, red, white and blue lightshow, and a four story tall Mick Jagger belting out "Start me Up".  There was a fabulous tribute to Ray Charles sung by Mick and Lisa Fisher, one of the backup singers.  The stage split in two and rolled into the center of the crowd for "Satisfaction" and "Honky Tonk Woman". Jagger stood high against a red snakeskin video backdrop and sang "Sympathy for the Devil". And there was Keith Richards at the end, on his knees, wailing away on that guitar.

It was a high energy show that few rockers of any age would have attempted.  The band was mostly tight, except for the occasional abberation by Keith Richards. Jagger, front and center throughout most of it, was the consumate showman, working the crowd, elevating and then keeping the enthusiasm level at a fever pitch for three solid hours. 

There were two opening acts. Les Trois Accord, five guys from Drummondville Quebec, played an energetic set  that had people tapping their feet.  I had never heard of them before, but they were great.  As they finished up their set, one of them slyly asked the crowd not to leave the stadium because there was going to be some more good music later… Our Lady Peace was the second opener.  They played a great set with a couple of hits, and some new stuff, including the anti-George Bush "Wipe That Smile Off Your Face", which I think they hope will be a hit (at least in Canada).  Both of these bands have to be amazed at their good fortune.  They play pretty small venues.  Opening for the Stones will give them a lot of visibility.

Although it was great, the show did not come off without a hitch.  Persistent feedback problems (I counted 288 speakers in the mainstage PA…) marred the sound occasionally.  The three story video system was awesome, but toward the end it just went berserk – herky jerky, ripping and tearing, out of synch with the band.  It was as if they were powering the video system with a PC, which suddenly decided to do an anti-virus scan.  There were also a couple of missed queues — Keith Richards on stage too early for a guitar solo, for instance.  And, at one point the crowd booed Keith because he was openly smoking on stage, after which he retreated behind Charlie Watt’s drum kit for the occasional cigarette.  It held the show up a couple of times — Mick chatting with the crowd, while Keith had a quick smoke out of site. 

By 10:45 it was all over.  Two encores – "You can’t always get what you want", and "It’s only Rock and Roll", followed by some more fireworks, and then home.

Some other impressions:

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