By Friday night my sleep deficit has caught up with me, I’m a zombie. I was ready to collapse last night by about 11:30 when Dawn said “let’s stay up and watch something.” Uh, okay. I looked in the TV Guide and to my mixed dismay (I have to stay up) and excitement (I wanted to see this), saw that the rebroadcast of the Stones concert was starting on HBO.
The concert had been on for a few minutes. My first reaction was to be taken aback by the close-ups of Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie: man did they look old and craggy. When you’re about 60, the penalty for remaining rockstar-thin is a cadaverous face and hollow cheeks. But when the cameras pulled back, or my eyes lost focus as I drifted off for the first time of many over the next couple of hours, 30 years melted away and the magic was real. What a great show!
Every time the Stones dust it off again and hit the road I am skeptical that they can live up to the title “World’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band,” but playing a mix of favorites from their 40 years as a band (I didn’t hear anything newer than “When the Whip Comes Down” from Some Girls ’78, other than Keith’s “Thru and Thru” – um, no – from Voodoo Lounge, and the token new song, “Don’t Stop,” included on the 40 Licks collection), they seemed to actually gain energy as the show went on and the Madison Square Garden crowd became more and more rapturous.
Special emphasis was placed on the the classic late-60s early-70s period between Let It Bleed and It’s Only Rock and Roll, possibly the most productive period of any band in rock history. I will mention only in passing that the remarkable Mick Taylor was lead guitarist for the band through this period – when the band achieved an unequaled synthesis of rock and roll, blues, and country – and for all Ronnie Wood’s charms (especially on slide), he is no Mick Taylor (watch this great show, then watch Gimme Shelter, or listen to Get Yer Ya-Ya’a Out! to fully realize the difference). Hell, there are still plenty who miss Brian Jones, but the Stones became the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band only when young Taylor came on board.
Besides the core Stones (Bill Wyman retired in the ’90s), standouts included the remarkable lungs (and I mean that literally and euphemistically) of singer Lisa Fischer, who matched Merry Clayton’s archetypal original vocal on “Gimme Shelter” note-for-note before transcending it with a super-human flourish that I feared might cause structural damage to the Garden; and stalwart saxman Bobby Keys, who didn’t have to imitate anyone: he played on all the original recordings, and particularly shined on the extended coda of “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’.”
Hear me now and believe me later: the Stones are a better band live now than they were in the ’70s when their lives, bodies, and minds were a quagmire of sex, drugs and alcohol. I saw shows back then that felt like they were going through the motions, disrespecting their own songs, their audience and themselves. Age has focused them, yet taken away very little of their maniacal energy, and Keith Richards is still the greatest rhythm guitarist who ever lived. Long live rock, indeed.
Stones to perform free concert in LA on the 6th to spotlight global warming:
- On February 6, 2003 at 8 pm, the Rolling Stones will perform a special free concert at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA to raise awareness about global warming.
NRDC and the Stones are staging this landmark event to turn up the heat on global warming, and spotlight opportunities that exist right now to start fixing the problem.
Between December 23, 2002 and January 6, 2003, fans had the opportunity to enter a sweepstakes to win two tickets to the concert.
Congratulations to the lucky winners, who were selected at random and have been notified by email or postal mail. Winners are listed here.
We hope everyone will join the Stones, the Natural Resources Defense Council and millions of others who want to stop global warming. Click here to take a simple online action to fight global warming and to learn what else you can do.
Together, we can turn up the heat on U.S. leaders to put global warming solutions in place.
Bill Clinton to speak as well:
- Clinton plans to appear at a free Stones concert Thursday at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, event organizers said Sunday.
The ex-president, who sported sunglasses and played his sax on “The Arsenio Hall Show” during a 1992 campaign appearance, isn’t expected to perform with the band.
Instead, he’ll make a speech from the stage about the importance of fighting global warming, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nonprofit group staging the gig.
The show was conceived as a way to put “a worldwide spotlight on global warming and the opportunities that exist right now to start fixing the problem,” said Jon Coifman, spokesman for NRDC.