Rolling Stones tour opener

Music Reviews The Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones tour opener

(Above [L-R] [as if you didn’t know]: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards rock Fenway Park.)

Okay, here’s the obligatory wisecrack up front: the Rolling Stones have finally played a venue older than they are. For the second time in a row, a Stones tour opened in Boston, this time with two shows at historic Fenway Park. They’re the third band accorded the privilege of playing Fenway since rock came back to the Park (Springsteen was the first, followed by Jimmy Buffett last summer), an honor duly noted by both Jagger and Richards (who thanked the Red Sox organization for letting “us rascals” perform on “hallowed ground.”)

It was a typical opening-night show: a misstep here and there, along with the buzz of a tour kickoff. The set—22 songs that took just over two hours to play—was typical opening night fare, too. The band opened and closed with predictable choices, tearing through “Start Me Up” at the get-go and sending the crowd home with a blistering “It’s Only Rock and Roll” that found Jagger still sprinting across the stage after a full night of onstage aerobics.

In between, there were a couple left turns. The band turned in a fantastic version of “She’s So Cold” which, Jagger noted, they’d only performed onstage once before. Keith Richards pulled out some sweet country rock—accompanied by Ron Wood on pedal steel and Tim Ries on soprano sax—with “The Worst.” And in one of the evening’s highlights, the Stones paid tribute to Ray Charles with “The Right Time, ” featuring an amazing vocal from backup singer Lisa Fischer.

The show also included four songs from the new album, A Bigger Bang. But for the most part, the band drew on the hallowed Stones canon—”Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Honky Tonk Women” and “Brown Sugar” all made appearances.

All this took place, of course, in the context of the kind of concert spectacle at which the Stones excel. The stage for this run is a massive edifice, apparently the largest ever for a rock tour; it’s five stories high, with a giant video screen flanked by two towers of reflective metal stripes that also incorporated about 200 audience members. Mid-show, a mini-stage detaches from the main stage and moves the band out into the middle of the crowd for four songs, among them an incendiary “Satisfaction.”

At Fenway, Jagger was a lithe, ageless wonder throughout, strutting, skipping , preening, racing around the stage, egging on and cajoling the crowd. Richards, on the other hand, with a smoke dangling from his lips, looked as always like the world’s most elegant living corpse. He launched “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” with a trademark kick, and was on fire and spinning during “It’s Only Rock and Roll”—but those moments were more the exception than the rule.

The Stones’ tour opener wasn’t quite a grand slam of a show, but it was close; call this one a bases-loaded triple.

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