50th anniversaries always merit big celebrations and the one given by the Rolling Stones was no exception, with the band bringing its 50 and Counting tour to the gorgeous new Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night. From the opening chords of “Get Off of My Cloud” to the ending chimes of “Satisfaction,” Jagger & Co. opened the three-date U.S. leg of their mini-tour by giving the sold-out crowd a show they will not soon forget.
With a top ticket price near $800 and merchandise tables located throughout the arena and outside, the line “what can a poor boy do ‘cept to play in a rock n roll band?” from “Street Fightin’ Man” felt ironically appropriate. Though the band has only announced five dates so far, if a full world tour should follow, commercial expectations will be high – 2005-’07’s Bigger Bang tour was the second highest grossing rock trek in history.
The band played it safe Saturday night by sticking mostly to hit songs and familiar radio anthems, but they did manage to include two new tracks (“One More Shot” and “Doom and Gloom”) and a great cover of the Beatles “I Wanna Be Your Man,” which they too recorded back in 1963.
The biggest hits, like “Paint It, Black,” “Miss You,” “It’s Only Rock N Roll (But I Like It),” “Start Me Up,” “Brown Sugar” and “Happy” remained close to the original arrangements, but others, such as “Sympathy for The Devil” and “Midnight Rambler,” came with meatier new arrangements. Mary J. Blige helped out on “Gimme Shelter,” and the group brought out guitarist Gary Clark Jr. for a thrilling cover of Don Nix’s “Going Down.” As usual, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and show-closer “Satisfaction” brought the house down.
Yes, the band is getting old, but these guys still have it. Charlie Watts was as solid (and stoic) as ever; Keith Richards played with all the bravado of a pool hall punk; and Mick Jagger simply sounded just as good as he did in the 1970s, hitting all the notes without a problem. The band played looser than usual, and some of the endings were a bit sloppy, but after all, it was only the third show of the tour, and the Stones have historically required a few weeks to start burning on all cylinders.
Housed in a massive stage that recreated the band’s trademark lips and tongue logo, and backed by a 50 foot high LED video curtain that alternated between archival Stones footage and the cameras shooting the show, the group was able to once again journey out into the audience often without ever leaving the stage.
Jagger kept the stage talk to a minimum but spoke from the heart near the end of the performance: “People ask us, why do we keep touring… You’re the reason we really do this. Thank you for buying our records and coming to our shows for the last 50 years. You’ve been amazing.” So have the Rolling Stones.
The group plays Newark’s Prudential Center on December 13 and 15.