Let me get this out of the way first: The Rolling Stones looked great on Tuesday night at the Atlanta stop in their Zip Code Tour. Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are 71, Ronnie Wood is 68, and Charlie Watts is 74, and you can obviously see the effects of time in their faces, but the old guys aren’t trying to hide it.
And all four looked supremely fit at the Atlanta show. They played for 2 hours and 20 minutes, but it seemed like they could have gone on forever, especially buoyed by such stellar musicians behind them, including Chuck Leavell, their keyboardist for over 30 years. (Click here for a post about Leavell’s recent talk at Armstrong State University here in Savannah.)
Jagger was off stage for a couple of songs when Richards took lead vocals, but the skinny frontman was a blur of motion the rest of the time — skipping, running, gesturing to the crowd. Jagger still has that almost-frantic, sort of knock-kneed strut, and his voice, which was always a little raspy, has as much range as ever. In fact, a couple of times I was hoping he would show a little less energy — maybe sing a slower song or a blues ballad.
Georgia Tech’s old Bobby Dodd Stadium, which is more compact than modern stadiums and which is right in the middle of the city, was a perfect home for the Stones. Jagger even reminded the crowd that they played there in 1989. Jagger seemed genuinely gracious at various points in the show — he warmly introduced the entire band individually, allowed the great Lisa Fischer to take center stage, acknowledged the work of the Emory University Concert Choir on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and gave a shoutout to the excellent opener, St. Paul and The Broken Bones.
About halfway through the show, Jagger thanked the crowd again: “It’s good to see you guys.” And then he added: “It’s good to see anybody.” It’s a line the band has used before. My friend Scott yelled back: “It’s good to be seen!”
This wasn’t the Stones at their youthful, frenetic peak (think Altamont), and it certainly wasn’t the young band who played at Georgia Southern College in 1965. And, yes, that really was Ralph Reed in the row behind us.
Despite their mainstream acceptance and their status as wealthy elder statesmen of rock, the Stones still have a gritty edge, still pack a visceral punch.
How many more shows do the Stones have left in them? Will this be their last tour?
The setlist was awesome, but how could it not be? As reported by setlist.fm and other sites:
- Start Me Up
- It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
- All Down the Line
- Tumbling Dice
- Doom and Gloom
- Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
- You Gotta Move (a Mississippi Fred McDowell song from 1971’s Sticky Fingers)
- Some Girls (which was chosen by some internet vote or something — odd choice and one of the weakest songs of the set, imo)
- Honky Tonk Women
- Before They Make Me Run
(Keith Richards on lead vocals)
(Keith Richards on lead vocals, but he seemed too happy to stay focused on the singing)
- Midnight Rambler
- Miss You
- Gimme Shelter
- Jumpin’ Jack Flash
- Sympathy for the Devil
- Brown Sugar
very short break and then the 2-song encore:
- You Can’t Always Get What You Want
(with Emory University Concert Choir)
- (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
I especially liked “Midnight Rambler” and “Gimme Shelter,” the latter featuring longtime backing vocalist Fischer.
Of course, there are tons of songs that the Stones didn’t play. I would have loved to swap out a few of those for earlier stuff: “19th Nervous Breakdown,” “Paint It Black,” “As Tears Go By,” “Little Red Rooster.”
Or maybe “Under My Thumb,” “Wild Horses,” and “Angie”? In fact, the 1989 Bobby Dodd setlist would have been just fine.
The outfits (just occasional changes from one color silk shirt to another) and staging were fairly simple but really beautiful, I thought. There were three large video screens — one in the center of the towering stage and one on each side. The lighting was not especially fussy, although there were some dramatic changes, like the sudden red for “Sympathy for the Devil”:
Thanks to my friend Mike Vaquer and his friendship with Chuck Leavell, we had seats (pricy, but still a bargain) on the floor in the 33rd row. So we were about 100 yards from the main stage, but we were literally right next to the thrust stage. I wasn’t allowed to bring my Nikon with the good zoom, but my Fujifilm x100t was perfect for snagging a few shots when the musicians came forward. My view of the video screens was just luck.
Click on through for lots more by both Mike and me (also, bigger versions are just a click away):
These next six shots are by Mike Vaquer:
And here are lots more of mine: