Peoria, Tazewell, And Woodford: Here, There & Everywhere

Seven Stones: The Rolling Stones: By Mike Foster with Guests

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Seven Stones: The Rolling Stones 1964-2015
By Mike Foster with Dave Hoose, John Franz, Rhonda Wassell, Loren Wassell, & Jon Davis

Mike Foster, Metamora, Illinois:
Summer’s here and the time is right for the return of the Rolling Stones, 51 years after their first American tour.
Since that year and up until 1999, I have seen them play seven times, beginning with a short Nov. 11, 1964 performance in the Milwaukee Auditorium attended by about 450 people, not including their founding member Brian Jones (guitar and harmonica), who was hospitalized in Chicago for “exhaustion.”
They’re back in the colonies now for their Zip Code tour, but eight times is not the charm, considering the ticket prices are considerably higher than the $4.50 that my Marquette University chum and eventual best man Dave Hoose and I coughed up back then in our freshman year.
Besides, little can compare to the stunning surprise of the first time, a recollection rich as rubies over five decades later.
I’d latched on to the Stones that April after hearing their first US single, their thunderous cover of Buddy Holly & The Crickets “Not Fade Away.” Bo Diddley was my favorite; I even tried to book him for the Spalding Institute-Academy of Our Lady ’64 senior prom.
But the Stones’ first US single, driven by Keith Richards’ dramatic 12-string acoustic guitar introduction, Bill Wyman’s single terse grace bass note, and then the pounding Diddley drumming of Charlie Watts, Brian Jones’ blues-wailing harmonica, and the primal roar of Mick Jagger’s vocal and his manic maracas.
Yet when Dave and I walked down from our dorms Nov. 11, I had only seen the Stones once, on their comparatively tame Oct. 25 Ed Sullivan Show debut, doing “Around And Around” to a Nicolas Hall TV room full of loud deriders.
So when, after a queue of unknown local bands wasted our time, the curtain parted, I was unprepared.
Most first-timers are.
Keith hit that “Not Fade Away” “chuckata-chunk / chunk-chunk” opening, Bill may’ve nailed that octave bass note, and this slim dervish named Jagger leapt high in the air, came down shaking four maracas, and singing over Watts & Co., telling us how it’s gonna be, as the little girls screamed.
This was my first rock show ever, and I was years away from adopting my habit of taking in-concert notes.
Certainly “Not Fade Away” was the opener and “It’s All Over Now,” their first British #1 that summer, was the closer.
I’m positive they did the Diddleyesque “I’m All Right” right before that, but it may’ve been after.
Rufus Thomas’ “Walkin’ The Dog,” Chuck Berry’s “Around And Around,” (the first song they played on their Sullivan show set), a hyper-speed take on Muddy Waters’ “I Just Want To Make Love With You,” were present, as was their original “Tell Me,” the second American single.
“I Wanna Be Your Man,” the song that McCartney and John Lennon wrote for them, didn’t turn up; it needed Jones’ slide guitar. Nor did their cover of R&B singer Tommy Tucker’s enigmatic “Hi-Heel Sneakers.”
Thirty years later, in 1994 in London, I shared my recollections with another eyewitness: Bill Wyman.
The original bassist had retired from the band after a nasty fall off a stage. He had opened a pub, Sticky Fingers, which served splendid fish and chips and a tasty Pimm’s No. 4 Cup.
My wife Jo and I arrived and ordered a late lunch in the bar section with a German girl who’d recently arrived from Hamburg.
“Bill Vyman? Who is zees Bill Vyman,” she asked.
He was the founding bass player of the Rolling Stones, I explained.
“Oooh! Zee Rolling Stones! My vater liked them.”
We chatted for a bit and then a server came over from the other side. Bill was being filmed for a documentary on the blues and would we please come over to make the pub look more crowded and what would we like to drink?
We complied and decamped with Stella Artois and rhine wine. We continued our cheery chatter while Bill and his video interlocutor carried on for 30 minutes or so.
When the interview concluded, the dimunitive Wyman exited right by our table.
Up I popped and asked to shake his hand, surprisingly small and soft for a bass player’s.
“Bill Wyman,” I said. “I saw you play in Milwaukee in 1964 on Nov. 11.”
“Oh, right,” he replied. “We opened up with ‘Not Fade Away’.”
“Right,” I responded. “And you closed with ‘It’s All Over Now’.”
“Right,” he said, ‘and Brian was in hospital in Chicago but we were very good anyway.”
“Right,” I said with a laugh, and that was our close encounter with a Rolling Stone.
On May 9, 1965, Dave, my Marquette room-mate Jon Davis, and I were in Chicago to see the Rolling Stones play at the Arie Crown Theater, a since-closed venue in McCormick Place on Lake Shore Drive.
Besides their two appearances on the Ed Sullivan show (the second was May, 2, 1965), thanks for their increased popularity was due to the rock concert film “The T.A.M.I. Show” which was released Dec. 29, 1964, the day after I turned 18. It featured top British and American acts, and the Stones famously closed the Santa Monica, California, show following an incandescent set by James Brown. Thus the Arie Crown was packed and pandemoniacal.
Fueling the fire were their second, third, and fourth albums, the latter including the chart-topping “Satisfaction.”
The hysterical honeys sitting behind us were screaming “Bill! Bill! Bill!” They completely drowned out the opener, which seems to’ve been Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,” based on my recall of Jagger’s gestures.

The opening act, The McCoys, weren booed for presuming to play “Mercy, Mercy” the lead-off track on Out Of Our Heads, the Stones’ most recent long-player, before their own hits “Hang On, Sloopy” and “Fever.”

The Stones played it anyway.

“Play With Fire,” their ominous rich-girl put-down ballad, followed that.

The rest of the set included Don Covay’s “Mercy, Mercy,” “Around And Around,” and the Otis Redding show-stopping soul song “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” with Jagger James-Browning it, dropping to his knees, quieting and then raising the dynamic, while Brian Jones yawned at the Vox organ.

Finishing the set were their two most recent hits, “Get Off Of My Cloud” with Jones on slide guitar on his white Gibson Firebird, and then “Satisfaction” for the coup de grace.
Fourteen months and one day later, July 10, 1966, they were back in the Arie Crown. Dave and his girlfriend (now his wife) Paula drove up from Mishawaka, Indiana, in her new Volkswagen bug. I took the Rock Island Rocket up from Peoria and we met at the Allerton Hotel.

Flashing back to 1964, the band began with “Not Fade Away.” “Paint It, Black,” their polka from Hell powered by Watts and Wyman with Jones on sitar, followed their chart hit “The Last Time,” which was pilfered from a Staples Singers’ spiritual.

Three misogynistic originals, the sneering “Stupid Girl,” the medievalish “Lady Jane” with Jones playing an Appalachian dulcimer with a quill, and the pill-popper putdown “Mother’s Little Helper,” followed.

“Get Off Of My Cloud” preceded the snarky groupie tale, “The Spider And The Fly.”

And once again, “Satisfaction” closed the show. Jagger brought the volume up and down, pranced, danced, bent over, and ogled the crowd through his legs.

Just for a lark, we drove down to 2120 S. Michigan Avenue, home of Chess Studios, where the band had recorded their “It’s All Over Now” and their second album, 12×5. As 19-year-old kids, we had no idea how stupid it was for honkies to venture that far down into Chicago’s South Side in a shiny new VW late at night.

On a slow news night a few days later, I wrote that show up for the Peoria Journal Star, the local daily whose a 1964 journalism scholarship had made Marquette possible.

But time waits for no one.

I graduated from Marquette in 1968 and took a job teaching English and advising the student newsmagazine at my old school, Spalding Institute. I lasted a year.

On June 14, 1969, I married Jo Weslowski, a Milwaukee stunner I’d met in Honors Political Science 110 class during my first week in university in 1964. I went back to Marquette to get my MA in English. We had a daughter, Martha.

Then in August 1971, I joined the faculty at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, teaching English, journalism, humanities, and literature, including classes specializing in fantasy literature and in J.R.R. Tolkien. There I stayed until my retirement July 31, 2005.

So it would be 23 years, three months, and a week until I next rolled with the Stones on Sept. 17, 1989, in a poshly provisioned Monsanto Corp. skybox at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

My hosts were Loren and Rhonda Wassell, erstwhile newsroom mates at the Journal Star, and my former bandmate Dean Wolff of Brookfield, Wisconsin, co-founder of the rock group that became A Fine Kettle Of Fish.

By then, the Stones were big business, selling out stadiums, flogging merchandise (younger daughter Megan Foster Campbell has my “Steel Wheels Tour” tee-shirt), with costume changes, seven backing musicians, fireworks, invisible elevators to send Mick soaring high above the crowd like a demonic Peter Pan, and 27-song set list that exceeded the total they’d performed in the three prior shows by three.

That was probably the best show of the seven that I saw them play.

We were above the right field first base dugout. The band played in dead center. Mick was the man of many costumes; Keith wore black and then pink; he did not harmonize on “Tumbling Dice.” Wood played all the lead guitar parts except “Sympathy for the Devil,” which Jagger sang from atop the elevator tower.

Charlie resembled a greying bespectacled accountant. Wyman’s shoes were superglued to stage right. Singer Lisa Fischer made Tina Turner look like Agnes Gooch.

The opening band, Living Color, was so dire that we retreated behind the box’s soundproof glass doors to fortify us with free Heinekens.

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As we “Woo! Woo!”-ed energetically during “Sympathy For The Devil,” I saw some of the younger occupants eyeing Mr. Wassell, his wife, and their two long-hair friends from the north.

Howlin’ Wolf’s “Little Red Rooster,” which had been an unlikely bottleneck blues single for the Stones in 1964 featuring Brian Jones (RIP since July 3, 1969), featured Chuck Berry’s longtime piano player Johnny Johnson.

“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” replaced “Satisfaction as the closer.

Keith got to sing two songs.

It would be the last time I saw Bill Wyman playing bass with them.

The complete show included:

1. Start Me Up
2. Bitch
3. Sad Sad Sad
4. Undercover of the Night
5. Harlem Shuffle
6. Tumbling Dice
7. Miss You
8. Ruby Tuesday
9. Play With Fire
10. Dead Flowers
11. Rock and a Hard Place
12. One Hit (To the Body)
13. Mixed Emotions
14. Honky Tonk Women
15. Midnight Rambler
16. You Can’t Always Get What You Want
17. Little Red Rooster
18. Before They Make Me Run
19. Happy
20. Paint It Black
21. 2000 Light Years from Home
22. Sympathy for the Devil
23. Gimme Shelter
24. It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
25. Brown Sugar
26. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

27. Encore: Jumpin’ Jack Flash

The night after, back here on Foster Farm, Dean and I went over to play with A Fine Kettle Of Fish. We sensibly ceased the music a bit after midnight. Coming back here, we looked over to the fields to Pete Streid’s farmhouse on Rt. 116 where we’d jammed.

“Holy poop,” Dean said. The northern lights were shimmering above, purple, green, gold, blue. I went in to wake up Jo for the viewing and phoned Pete. Only one other time have I viewed them this far south.

Almost seven years later, on Aug. 20, 1994, I was off to see the Stones for the fifth time at Camp Randall Stadium on the University of Wisconsin campus, once again with Dave Hoose. Our senior year 1967-68 apartment-mate John Franz and John’s wife Julie, another Marquette friend, filled out our foursome.

I nearly missed the gig.

Driving up to the Franzes’ home, about an hour north of Foster Farm, the air-conditioning and power steering seized up and quit. I bulldogged the Buick into a service station in Minonk.

Diagnosis: master drive belt in ribbons. It needed replacement, but the mechanics couldn’t get a new belt sooner than a Monday, and this was Friday.

So I phoned Jo and she came to fetch me and bring me home in Buick II. Once back, I phoned Franz and told him what had happened. He advised prudence; Dave said to come on up.

I heeded Dave.

Setting a land-speed record for the Metamora to Madison run, I arrived at 8:50, just as they were leaving for the gig. We ended up missing Lenny Kravitz. Drat.

A hot night in row EE of a packed football arena, this fifth show began at 9:15 with “Not Fade Away,” the same as the 1964 Milwaukee show’d done. “It’s All Over Now” turned up later. So did “Satisfaction.” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was the reprise encore, ending the night at 11:15.

Keith sang two songs, “Before They Make Me Run” and “The Worst,” but they are unremembered because I had exited for a whiz. Returning, I couldn’t recall exactly where we were sitting. Fortunately, John and Dave’s bald spots guided me back.

The “Honky Tonk Women” film had snippets of starlets, bimbos, harridans, coeds in the crowd, and porn clip fellatio with lurid green and chartreuse inflatable dolls looming high on with side of the stage. Later a goat-headed Elvis turned up on the big screen.

Jagger wore dark glasses and a top hat at one point. Richards kicked, prowled around the drum kit, and actually ran across the wide stage. Now that’d be a job: Keith Richards’ personal trainer.

The complete set of two dozen tunes included:
o Not Fade Away
o Tumbling Dice
o You Got Me Rocking
o Shattered
o Rocks Off
o
o Sparks Will Fly
o (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
o Beast of Burden
o Out of Tears
o Memory Motel
o
o All Down the Line
o Miss You
o It’s All Over Now
o I Go Wild
o Honky Tonk Women
o
o Before They Make Me Run (Keith singing)
o The Worst (Keith again)
o Love Is Strong
o Monkey Man
o Start Me Up
o
o It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
o Street Fighting Man
o Brown Sugar
o Jumpin’ Jack Flash
o

dog-tooth
Then three years and four months later on Dec. 12, 1997, we four Fosters—Jo, me, elder daughter Martha (then 28) and younger daughter Megan, then 23 and a graduate student in art history at the University of Illinois who drove in from Urbana—saw the band in the St. Louis Trans World Dome.
We stayed at suite 706 in the Mayfair Hotel, a small, charming boutique inn since shuttered. It featured a uniformed elevator operator, a wee wizened ebony pixie. When we descended to walk to the show at 7:10, he said, “Haven’t you heard? The show has been cancelled.” He repeated it so solemnly we stayed bamboozled until then he cackled at our dismay.
Once I figured he was joshing, I tipped him.
“Satisfaction” was now the first song. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” closed the set, with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Brown Sugar” the encores, 23 songs in all.
Keith wore a leopard skin topcoat that revealed a tiger-striped jersey. Jagger boasted more costumes, from silver lame on down, than McDonald’s has French fries.
When Dave Matthews came on to sing “Wild Horses,” Megan booed.
Besides “Corrine, Corrina” with Taj Mahal, with Ronnie Wood playing slide on a country blues dobro mounted on a stand, the other surprising cover was Bob Dylan’s 1965 “Like A Rolling Stone,” done with the six-piece Stones, the basic quintet and keyboardist Check Leavell, out on the catwalk stage out in the center of the floor.
On “Gimme Shelter,” the fourth song, a girl who looked like Ronnie Spector’s daughter sang Merry Clayton’s part along with Lisa, her voice ever breaking on the accidentals as Merry’s had done on the record in 1969. I thumbs-upped her.
Martha, who is autistic, had eyes black and dilated as on her first airplane flight and smiled and clapped throughout. When I asked her what she thought of the show afterwards, she grinned and said “Fabulous.”
Our seats were nosebleeders, high to the left in the back of the hall. Thank Fudd for the Jumbotron video screen; the real band were no bigger than the lunula of my thumbnail.
After the show, Jo, not their greatest fan, said “He works hard for it. He gives you your $60 worth.”
Me: “Yep. They work hard for it.”
Jo: “Yep.”
Megan drove back to the U of I that night because she was talking finals. We three stayed over at the Mayfair and lunched at The Galleria with my sister and brother-in-law, Claudia and Bill Kane the next afternoon.
The full set of 23:
• (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
• Let’s Spend the Night Together
• Flip the Switch
• Gimme Shelter
• Wild Horses (with Dave Matthews)

• Anybody Seen My Baby?
• Saint of Me
• Corrine, Corrina (Bo Carter’s song done with Taj Mahal)
• Out of Control
• Waiting on a Friend (with Joshua Redman, the web choice). Mine was “Rip This Joint.”

• Miss You
• All About You (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
• Wanna Hold You (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
Out on the B-stage:
• It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
• The Last Time

• Like a Rolling Stone
• • Sympathy for the Devil
• Tumbling Dice
• Honky Tonk Women
• Start Me Up

• Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Encores:
• You Can’t Always Get What You Want
• Brown Sugar
If you missed it in 1997, you can see it in 2015. The complete concert was broadcast live on pay-per-view, with an edited version released on VHS/DVD in 1998. “Waiting on a Friend”, “Corinna”, and “The Last Time” appear on the No Security live album.
And speaking of the last time, Feb. 19, 1999, was it. We returned to Milwaukee as for the first time in 1964, but this time in the massive Bradley Center. Many more than 450 attended.
At the show for our fifth time around Stonesing, Dave Hoose was not sitting us. Our quartet consisted of Jo, Dean Wolff, me, and Marquette ’68 Honors Program chum Cathy Ghiardi Miller, seeing her first Rolling Stones show at age 52.
We four had upper-deck seats behind the band. Charlie’s tonsured bald spot was bigger than Keith’s.
The newly single black-clad Michael P. Jagger was with his daughter who’d given him the scarf he sent sailing into the crowd early into the opener, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” If she thought that her dad would appreciate her gift, stupid girl.
“Oh, that Mick!” Cathy said.
Two burly blokes sitting next to and in front of Jo began a punch-up.
“Peace, brothers,” I said.
“Don’t intervene,” she said.
The rumble ceased. Exhausted from work and worries about her mother, widowed seven months earlier, Jo actually napped during “Memory Motel,” “Sweet Virginia,” and most of “Some Girls.” Good idea, that.
Keith sang his two-song pound of flesh, “You Got The Silver” and “Before They Make Me Run” while Mick changed costume and maybe apologized to his daughter.
Unfortunately, a week earlier after a superb Feb. 13 Bob Dylan-Brian Setzer Orchestra show, the best double bill that ever Jo and I saw, at Illinois State University’s Bone Arena, I had endured what I thought was a spider bite on my left elbow.
After it woke me up with burning pain that forbade sleep at 1:33 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, I went to my doctor on Feb. 15. He gravely informed that the complaint was inflammatory bursitis that had proceeded to bursitis compounded by staph and strep infections.
“You could have lost your arm,” he said grimly.
I didn’t and I’m glad. It’s one of my favorite arms, essential for playing guitar, eating, driving, and writing this.
So Jo and I had to clap in tandem, my right hand to her left that night.
Dave and Paula’s seats were worse than the ones the four Fosters had in St. Louis in 1997. He wrote June 2:
“My journal says little about the actual show save that we liked it and the band performed well. I do have a cutting from the newspaper that gives the set list but I think you already have that. Did you remember they played three tunes on a small stage closer to the far end where we sat? My entry starts with my bitch about our seats that were in the row second from the top and the opposite end from the main stage and the sound was muddy. I was thankful for the large TV screens.”
The Hooses had better views that we did during the three songs the band played out on the small B-stage. That trio included the second song on their 1964 first album, Nat King Cole’s “Route 66,” which my jazz drummer dad Claude S. Foster had liked because of Charlie’s playing, “Just My Imagination,” their Temptations cover, and “Midnight Rambler.”
The twenty on the set list included:
1. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
2. Live With Me
3. Respectable
4. You Got Me Rocking
5. Memory Motel
6. Sweet Virginia
7. Some Girls
8. Paint It Black
9. You Got the Silver
10. Before They Make Me Run
11. Out of Control
13. Route 66
14. Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)
15. Midnight Rambler
16. Tumbling Dice
17. It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
18. Start Me Up
19. Brown Sugar
20. Encore: Sympathy for the Devil
The Rolling Stones will return to Milwaukee on June 23, 2015, but alas!
We won’t be there.
Have fun if you are.
Can I get a witness or five?

David Hoose, Milwaukee, Wisconsin:
I don’t recall “Hi-Heel Sneakers” from 1964 either but my recollection is foggy. It was a regular tune with them in those days. I do remember there were lots of empty seats but I don’t remember if we moved from our assigned places. [We did not; there only about 450 at the show].
Of course, you will recall the screaming girls behind us at that first Arie Crown show. When was that one? [1965]

I thought we saw them twice in that setting but I can’t remember anything about the second show if there was one [Yes.] the summer of ’66? in downtown Chicago but I don’t know the venue [Arie Crown again]. That’s the show that The McCoys opened [and got booed for presuming to play “Mercy, Mercy”] and Paula [then Barren; now Hoose] was with me. We drove from South Bend in her first VW Bug.
John Franz, Madison, Wisconsin:

Wish I could help more. The only time I saw them was with you and Davy [Hoose] here in Madison at the UW football stadium [in 1994]. Don’t remember much from the show. I think there were fireworks as they did “Start Me Up.” There may have been some sort of sexual innuendo involved.

I think you had trouble driving up here. I can’t remember exactly what it was, car trouble or traffic, something like that. [See above.]

They had the stage set up so that Jagger could prance far out on wings to the left and right. I think this was before the big Jumbotron screens, but there were some stage effects. [Huge inflatable dolls arose during “Honky Tonk Women.”]

At some point, you commented on the fact that Davy and I had matching bald spots on the backs of our heads. I wonder if we were up in the second level of seats looking down at the concert. I think we had a pretty good view. Don’t remember any of the other songs or the quality of the performance.

I wish I could excavate more from the memories, but that’s about it.

Rhonda Wassell, Creve Coeur, Missouri:

I checked with [husband] Loren and neither of us have any unusual recollections of our Stones concerts. We can’t even remember the venue in 1989 – maybe Busch Stadium? If so, that was the show with the giant blow-up dolls on both sides of the stage for “Honky Tonk Woman.”

I recall that their shows were all polished and well-executed productions, with Mick running all over the stage with amazing energy. We didn’t keep any notes about songs or other specific details. We did enjoy the shows. I think we’ve seen them twice and the setlists were similar, so they blur together.

Loren Wassell, Creve Coeur, Missouri:

Jogged from the dim recesses of memory…

The opening act, Living Color, was so painfully loud that we took refuge behind the glass doors of the skybox enclosure.

Guest artist for at least one song was the late Johnnie Johnson. Johnnie is remembered as Chuck Berry’s piano player, but originally Chuck was the guitar player in Johnnie’s band. Many of Chuck’s distinctive guitar licks resemble Johnnie’s piano licks.

Later, we got to see Johnny and Chuck together (maybe the last time) at one of Chuck’s gigs in the basement Duck Room at Blueberry Hill on Delmar Avenue in St. Louis’ University City.

Jon Davis, Lusby, Maryland:

I have seen them live. I have never heard them live. You and I went down to Chicago for a concert [1965]. Because of screaming girls, I heard not a note.

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One comment on “Seven Stones: The Rolling Stones: By Mike Foster with Guests

  1. Steve McLinden
    June 8, 2015

    Steve McLinden, Arlington, TX

    ARLINGTON, TX_They are septuagenarians save one, craggy-faced and road-worn after more than 50 years of touring. But they’re obviously digging deep this tour to recreate that old spark, sounding every bit as tight at when I first marveled at them at Chicago Stadium in 1972, mouth agape, at age 16. Never did I dream over the years that they’d be appearing less than 10 miles from my doorstep here in Arlington, Texas, the long-serving hyphen in D-FW. But thanks to Jerry Jones’ monster $1 billion-plus creation, AT&T Stadium, there they were Saturday night in their venerable splendor, under an open-roof on a hot rock-and-roll night.
    Mick Jagger, who will be 72 in July, nimbly pranced around the stage like a man 40 years his junior after the Stones took the stage at 9:32, laying out robust, adrenal versions of Jumpin’ Jack Flash, It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, Let’s Spend the Night Together and Tumbling Dice, before semi-enthusiastically running through the lesser-known Doom and Gloom. To his credit, Jagger didn’t refer to the Arlington venue as “Dallas” as many performers do.
    Ostensibly a Sticky Fingers-themed tour, the Stones left most of that catalog off the play list, but hit its high points with gusto, performing Bitch, Brown Sugar and the exquisite and haunting Moonlight Mile with Jagger hitting those searing high notes with seeming ease as the song drives to its crescendo, “Yeah I’m coming home, ’cause I’m just about a moonlight mile on down the road, down the road, down the road…” When I closed my eyes, all the old songs sounded every bit as edgy as when I first heard them live in the 70’s and better than many other ensuing performances (at least 15) through the decades.
    In another nod to Texas, Jagger donned a cowboy hat and sang a truncated version of George Strait’s All My Exes (Live in Texas). At least one Jagger ex, Jerry Hall, owns a home in Austin. Then came the raucous Rocks Off, the by-online-request song for the Arlington show, followed by Honky Tonk Women. The sound was surprisingly sufficient on the floor but our three friends visiting from my hometown of Peoria, Illinois, complained there was constant vocal reverb in the upper decks.
    Keith Richards, 71, seemed to be enjoying himself, wearing a smirky little-boy grin all night. He was surprisingly on key on vocals for most of his high-pitched leads on Happy and Before They Make Me Run. The 68-year-old youngster Ron Wood, who a local reviewer calls “a walking bundle of tendons,” was a bit more serious but reliably steady on several different guitars, Charlie Watts, though suffering chronic back problems, still pulled no punches, remaining strongly on beat. But he could not hide the pained expression he wore most of the night. Charlie, 74, seemed a bit put off when Mick ushered him down the runway jutting 40 rows or so into the crowd and seemed relieved when he was allowed to hobble back to his drums.
    Midnight Rambler, sans the whipping-belt Jagger was once known to wield during the song, gave way to Miss You with Wood on peddle steel guitar. Then came Gimme Shelter, with the amazing Merry Clayton handling the female vocals. (Grace Potter, the opening act, had done that job in previous performances though not this night, oddly. Potters’ band, which included the Late Late Show’s Hagar Ben Ari on bass, raced through a hard-driving but not particularly substantive set of about 35 minutes.)
    Start Me Up, an especially inspired version of Sympathy for the Devil and Brown Sugar ended the enormously entertaining regular Stones set. The encore started with the University of Texas at Arlington’s A cappella choir singing a familiar refrain alone on stage, a forerunner to You Can’t Always Get What You Want of course. The Stones, fittingly, left the sold-out stadium by helicopter after a two hour and ten-minute set ending with the always gratifying standard, Satisfaction.

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2015 by in Life Experiences, Mike Foster and tagged , , .
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