My first Rolling Stones concert was something of a modern-day pilgrimage. As soon as this tour was announced I knew I would do whatever it took to get to it. The Stones have been perched at the top of my Bucket List for far too long. What it ended up taking was the purchase of a single, highly marked-up resale ticket, a flight to and from Chicago – a city I’d never been to before, two hours on the train, and a hotel room that I spent a total of four hours sleeping in. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
Seeing those big ol’ lips of a stage for the first time made my heart race. My half-a-month’s-rent ticket placed me squarely in the last row of the arena, but the view was actually pretty decent. That being said, I’d probably have eaten a bushel of raw onions for a ticket to the Tongue Pit (if you know me, you know I wouldn’t throw that qualifier around lightly…)
While the seat itself was fine, the company next to me was not. Only a few bars into the opening “Get Off of My Cloud” the two youngish-women next to me started talking over the music. Unless one of them was actively bleeding out right there in her seat I can’t imagine what on earth was more important than what was happening onstage. I wasn’t about to let their inane conversation compete with the music so I left my seat to stand against the back wall next to someone I felt much more akin to – a white-haired man wearing a “Stones ‘75” shirt, silently air-guitaring his ass off. Yes, these are my people.
I’m going to run out of adjectives at some point in this post but the show was epic. For all the hype, and all the months of waiting for a tour announcement, and all the public outcry about their ticket prices, and all the jokes about their advanced age, they came out and reminded everyone why they are still billed as “the greatest rock & roll band in the world.”
Mick pranced around the stage like a teenager, donning several different outfits and teasing the crowd with his trademark wiggle. Charlie’s impeccably elegant posture had me grinning all night. For some reason seeing Keith Richards in the flesh elicited the most awe. Like being at the beach and seeing an actual Sir Francis Drake pirate walk past your sand castle. The legend around him is pretty awesome, in the real sense of that word. Ronnie Wood looks like he weighs about 38 pounds. But I love his elfin weirdness. I feel like Bobby Keys has made an appearance in every rock memoir I’ve read in the past five years so seeing him with the boys was also a thrill. I obviously never saw them in the glory days, but it wasn’t apparent to me that any significant amount of power has been lost over the years. Though, it’s pretty bittersweet to think about how incredible they must have been in their heyday.
Taylor Swift was the evening’s special guest, which could seem like a non sequitur but their guest roster has been trending toward pop stars so I wasn’t altogether surprised. Though, I was hoping that being in Chicago might have resulted in a bluesier cameo. Swift joined Mick for “As Tears Go By” which was probably one of the better matches they could have given her from their catalog. The song was nice, if a little awkward. Swift gave off a pretty serious lost-lamb vibe during the performance and you didn’t ever get the sense that she and Mick were really connecting on any level. But as a 20-something woman myself I have to say, she was living the dream and even if it wasn’t the number of the night, she was onstage with the Rolling Stones. So you gotta give it up for that.
A very unwelcome distraction came about three-quarters of the way through the show when some guy came up and tried to strike up a conversation over the music with the winning line of “Did you know they don’t serve you beer past 10:30 here?!” I need to work on my icy gaze because apparently it was less than arctic. Homeboy stood next to me for what felt like hours, singing choruses, and yelling more stimulating one-way conversation like “Have you read Keith Richards book? Yeah, I haven’t but I really want to!” and “Man how AWESOME would it have been to see The Stones in their prime like 70’s, 80’s??” I thought I was rid of him a few times, but like some particularly persistent strain of the flu, he kept popping back up. I did my best to tune him out but what I really wanted to do was push him down the stairs.
The highest points of the night for me musically pretty much all involved Mick Taylor. He came and went throughout the show but when he was there, man, you knew it. I had to take my sweater off during his solo in “Midnight Rambler” and the by-request inclusion of “Sway” was pretty delicious. His tone is just so effortlessly gorgeous, and a reminder of why the Sticky Fingers/Exile on Main Street era was such a thing of beauty.
With a career spanning fifty years of huge hits, it’s hard not to have a show that ends up feeling slightly jukebox-y. The crowd went predictably wild when they heard the first bars of “Start Me Up” and “Satisfaction.” And while I love those songs as much as the next fan, it would have been amazing to hear some of their deeper cuts. The Keith and Ronnie delivery of “You’ve Got the Silver” was a real treat, a stripped-down acoustic moment in the midst of all the rocking made you appreciate both sounds just a little more.
Throughout the show the onscreen stage scrolled archive Stones footage. Sometimes the juxtaposition of a giant baby version of the guys with the life-sized current version was a little shocking but it really got me thinking. I realized, watching the footage of the band and especially of the concert crowds over the years, that there’s something truly special about a Stones concert. I suppose it’s a result of their incredible longevity, but there’s a very real sense of living history. Kids have been turning onto the Stones for fifty years. Fifty years of hearing “Paint It Black” for the first time. Fifty years of losing your breath for a minute when the lights come up and there they are. Fifty years of collecting albums, singing in your car, hoping for a tour to hit your town. Most of the first kids to turn onto the Stones are members of AARP now, but at the show there’s this unifying, empowering feeling. It’s like being inducted into a secret club, suddenly you’ve just joined a long line of millions of people who have felt that particular brand of electric magic in the air. So yes, my solo out-of-state adventure, and the dollars it took to make it happen were absolutely worth it. I will always wish I could have gotten in on the secret sooner, but I’m so glad to be here now.
I’ve got my flight and hotel booked for Chicago. I’m still trolling Stub Hub for the perfect seat location that won’t cost me a month of rent. I’m restricting my own options by holding out for a physical, UPSable, actual ticket and not a crappy downloadable one. I’m a sucker for nostalgia and if I’m going to pay a week’s income to fulfill a life dream, goddamn it I want a real ticket that I can frame and keep on the mantle next to photos of my grandchildren. Downloaded, printed-out, e-tickets are one of the worst things that ever happened to concerts. Who is going to treasure a piece of crumpled up printer paper with Ticketmaster ads all over it? Gag me.
I digress. The point of the story is I’M GOING TO SEE THE ROLLING STONES and I’m freaking pumped.
Also, in related news Brett Morgen’s fabulous Stones documentary Crossfire Hurricane will be released in the USA on DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital video next Tuesday. This is one I will definitely be adding to my library.
Looking forward to sharing my Stones experience with y’all. Prep yourselves for an exclamation point onslaught. Sorry in advance.
Something big (read: the world’s most talked-about world tour announcement) is coming from The Rolling Stones this Wednesday. I will be spending the next three days mentally preparing to rearrange my summer, empty my bank account, and realize my life dreams. So, the Stones just better not disappoint with this epically built-up roll out…
The Milk Carton Kids’ third album is out today. The Ash & Clay is their first album since signing with Anti Records back in November. As a huge fan of these guys, it is really wonderful to watch them reaching an ever broader audience. Just in the past couple weeks The Ash & Clay has been featured on NPR and in The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. That Mercury Sound will be proud to say we knew them when…
The latest album delivers the cleverly crafted lyrics, delicately woven harmonies, and fine acoustic picking that have become their signature. Three of the tracks were heard earlier this year in the soundtrack for Gus Van Sant’s film Promised Land. And while I haven’t had time to play the new album to shreds just yet (as I have their previous two) I will say a personal standout for me is the quietly intoxicating “On the Mend.” The Milk Carton Kids always have a few songs on each album with a melody that you don’t even realize you’re falling for, until you’re totally in love.
The boys will be hitting the road again this spring in support of the album – first with a European leg and then back for a swing around the states. They are (deservedly) making their reputation as much on their fantastic and hilariously deadpan live shows as their consistently gorgeous music, so if you haven’t seen them live yet, stop messing around.
Cheers to Joey and Kenneth and another wonderful Milk Carton Kids album!
I’ll be the first to admit, I was pretty skeptical of Kid Rock and Bob Seger sharing the bill at last night’s concert. I wasn’t completely sure what a hardcore Kid Rock fan looked like, but I was pretty sure I knew what a Bob Seger crowd would be (old guys, my usual and favored concert milieu). In actuality the crowd was pretty visibly divided, but overcame any potential differences by apparently drinking all of the beer the Xcel Energy Center had available. This was by far one of the drunkest crowds I’ve ever been in, and the general appearance of the folks rivaled that time I made it through about six songs at a Bon Jovi concert in Portland. Needless to say, the pre-show people watching was pretty incredible.
However, despite two pretty distinctive subsets of audience members the show made a surprising amount of sense. I know that Bob Seger is one of Kid Rock’s musical heroes and Rock was very reverent throughout the night. Opening his show by telling the crowd that this is what it looks like when dreams come true. His set actually blew me away. His distinctive mix of southern (Detroit) rock and hip-hop elements translated beautifully in an arena setting. His band was tight and loud and maybe it’s just because I usually only see performers aged 60+ but I was totally carried away by the kinetic energy of the show. I could have done without the bizarre hyper-patriotic video montage, but he zeroed straight in on his audience with clips of American flags, Harleys, and men and women in uniform.
I will admit that after the pyrotechnics (both literal and figurative) of Kid Rock’s show there was a somewhat jarring transitional moment when the lights came up on Bob and the Silver Bullet Band. The stage was set-less, the horn section was all wearing dad jeans and short-sleeve plaid shirts. Gone was Kid Rock’s hyper-sexy backup singer and in her place were three ladies who could all be her mother. The music was there, but you just had to chuckle at the contrast.
Seger himself looked to be having a fucking blast. Grinning ear to ear between songs, and dishing out lots of the back stories on how each song came to be. Many of the songs were introduced with “see if you remember this one!” He prefaced “Like a Rock” by saying “If you’re 26, and you’re here tonight, you weren’t even born the last time we played this!” All the blacked out Kid Rock fans shoved their drinks and the air and howled at this, not completely sure why.
The current of nostalgia was running strong through Seger’s set, playing many of his greatest hits. But the emotional climax of the show for me was the back-to-back pairing of “Against the Wind” and “Roll Me Away” – both incredible songs about the shaky footing of fleeting young freedom. Coming from a 67-year-old Seger the words carried the weight of wisdom and hindsight. He nailed both numbers and I might have gotten a little misty-eyed… (No one around me noticed though because they were all just struggling to stay upright at this point).
The night closed out with an encore that had that elusive quality of real spontaneity. Rock and Seger played this show (and one tonight in Fargo) in between their own separate tours, and witnessing their first finale together was a real delight. Seger came out first and launched into the first chords of “Night Moves.” When Kid Rock joined him it wasn’t quite pure synchronicity but they were both palpably digging it. To the delight of Rock’s fans the next song was his hit riff on Sweet Home Alabama “All Summer Long.” The next number though, I don’t think anyone was prepared for. Rock introduced it by saying as a cocky young kid, he could imagine himself one day sharing a stage with his hero Bob Seger, but if you had told him that they’d be singing this next song he would have “slapped the taste out of your mouth.” The song was Rock’s hip-hop heavy “Forever” and Seger played a lead role in it, spitting out verses like “Bitch I told ya/do not hate.” I don’t know what was more surreal, seeing Bob Seger rapping with Kid Rock or seeing the older ladies one row over head-banging along. It was a pretty perfect encapsulation of the multigenerational affair that this concert was. The night closed with a nod to the nostalgia of Seger’s set with “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”
I had no idea what to expect going into last night’s show, having never seen Seger or Kid Rock. But if this was a test-run for a possible future joint tour, I’d say it passed with flying colors.
This week has brought a heap of my favorite kind of news – tour announcements!
Bob Dylan has announced a full April calendar of Northeast and upper Midwest dates with supporting act Dawes. I can only hope (and pretty safely assume) that there will be more dates added to this, my favorite never-ending tour.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers will be out for a May/June run in between studio work on their new album. The bulk of the shows will be in two residencies – one at New York’s Beacon Theater and the other at Fonda Auditorium in Los Angeles. Between those two week-long stints Tom and the boys will be headlining Bonnaroo and playing a smattering of festival gigs and random Midwestern cities (Minneapolis included, so I’m not complaining)
The Milk Carton Kids will be hitting the road this spring in support of their forthcoming album The Ash & Clay. The album is set for a March 26th release and their tour kicks off with a leg of European dates in April. If you still haven’t seen them live (despite all my prodding) this spring would be an excellent time to do so.
In other tour news, I’m pretty resolved on making it to the Bob Seger show here in Minneapolis in a couple of weeks. Can’t say I’m all that thrilled about Kid Rock co-headlining but I haven’t ever seen Bob Seger live so I kind of can’t miss it.
Also, Eric Clapton has told Rolling Stone that he’s planning to stop touring when he turns 70, which gives us all just about two more years, so it might be wise to catch one of his arena shows this spring as well.
Still no word from the Stones on a 2013 tour, but I remain optimistic. Robert Plant hinted recently that he may be open to a Led Zeppelin reunion next year, needless to say… that has to happen.
How about y’all? Any tours you’re dying to catch?
Okay, Minnesota: Joke’s over. Moving up here from Texas was hard enough, and I know last winter was a mild one but these temperatures have got to go. It’s been a long while since we got above freezing, but the 10-day forecast looks cautiously optimistic (read: no single digits on the horizon). In honor of that forecast, and March rolling in next week, I assembled my Dear God, Is It Spring Yet? Playlist. I’m not a cold-weather girl, even for all the times my air conditioning broke in Austin, or the times I sweat through my clothes on a walk to the grocery store, or the time my sister and I actually resorted to cradling an ice block in order to be outside – it wasn’t half as bad as living in this cruel, perpetually sub-freezing, joke. Personal diatribe aside, I’m sure a lot of you all over the country are starting to itch for spring. Ready for tulips, and sunshine, and maybe even sandals. So I dedicate this playlist to all of you. Groundhog, you better not have lied to us.
- “Here Comes the Sun” – The Beatles
- “You Can Never Hold Back Spring” – Tom Waits
- “Warm It Up to Me” – Blind Willie McTell
- “Just a Little Heat” – The Black Keys
- “One Way Out” – The Allman Brothers
- “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)” – The Byrds
- “Getting Better” – The Beatles
- “Out of the Cold” – Amos Lee
- “Temporary Like Achilles” – Bob Dylan
- “A Change is Gonna Come” - Sam Cooke