Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stones Verdict?

Kind of lazy. Actually, here's the better, fuller director's cut, before it got chopped down:

The Rolling Stones made $162 million touring the U.S. last year,
easily out-grossing the likes of U2, peer Paul McCartney and
apparently any other single act in history, but they can't possibly be
hitting the road for the cash alone. At this point the group has
enough money to pay for several lifetimes' worth of indulgences,
indiscretions and transgressions. Likewise the Stones seemed to be
having fun Monday night at the United Center, or at least a well-honed
simulacrum of fun.

No, at this stage in their career, touring seems to be the last
vestige of the Stones' lock-up-your-daughters swagger and rebellion.
Sometimes it seems like all it takes is for someone to tell the band
to stop to get them to start back up again, and why shouldn't they?
Jazz and bluesmen are encouraged to tour until they keel over, so why
not the Stones, who have contributed as much to pop culture and pop
music as anyone else alive?

Forget the group's OK recent record "A Bigger Bang" - with the
exception of a couple of tracks, the band already seems like it has,
and given how poorly they went over, they probably should. No, the
Stones' set Monday, the first of two nights of their return
engagement, was as hits-heavy as any from their ongoing trek. Yet it's
easy to overlook the impressive fact that with as many hits as the
Stones have had the group could probably offer a slightly different
yet still satisfying best-of set every night. That's why the band
could get away with mothballing a monster like "Gimmie Shelter" when
they played Solider Field last September.

That song was back Monday, plus a few other Stones nuggets such as
"Let's Spend the Night Together," "Get Off My Cloud" and "Paint It
Black," though not always to good effect. It's always been cooler to
credit Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood with keeping the
Stones afloat, and indeed the ragged back-and-forth rhythm guitar work
of Richards and Wood is a force of nature, as is the stoic Watts'
swing-inflected backbeat. But it's Mick Jagger who makes a show great,
and this night he wasn't quite up to the task.

Yes, he wiggled and writhed in all the right places. But his voice let
"As Tears Go By" down, and too often he lazily relied on the
sing-along crowd or hid between Richards' and Wood's dueling riffs.
Yet even they weren't always in top form. For a band once so equated
with danger, there was little more sad and disappointing than hearing
"Gimmie Shelter" and "Sympathy for the Devil" drag, leeched of all
mystery, majesty and menace. The band was better when it stuck to its
distinctive brand of sloppy rock, as it did with "All Down the Line"
and "Happy."

It also took some audicity to conclude the barely two-hour evening by
singing "you can't always get what you want" and "I can't no
satisfaction." Maybe those words still ring true for anyone that
couldn't come up with the up-to-$450 (plus fees) ticket prices. But
the Stones long ago belied both folly-of-youth declarations. They've
had and have everything, and at this rate they'll get the last laugh,


Blogger Nick said...

I like this, in both forms. How many angry letters do you think this will this generate?

12:46 PM  

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