The Rolling Stones blew the roof off of New Jersey's Prudential Center last night, putting a cap on their brief 2012 run of dates, but seemingly setting the stage for more shows in 2013.
With a packed Prudential Center and a global pay-per-view audience watching, an energetic and characteristically cheeky Mick Jagger teased at one point, "This is our last show ... of the 50th anniversary tour." As that sunk in, Jagger added, "we hope to see you again soon."
The Newark ppv show was called "One Last Shot," but the tour is titled "50 and Counting," and to that point, it seems doubtful that the Stones would have cranked up their musical machine at all if they weren't planning at least a few more dates in cities around the world. Most industry insiders believe they will play more shows.
So if the pay-per-view, produced by WWE, turns out to be a promotional vehicle of sorts to sell tickets to more Stones shows in 2013, the band could not have had a more persuasive call to action. Newark was the sixth and final performance (preceded by arena shows in London and Brooklyn and a tune-up date at a Paris club), and the band was tight, focused and had style to burn.
The show, produced for ppv by longtime Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich, was well-paced and expertly delivered, from its opening salvo by a drumline walking through the crowd, through a setlist that included their best-loved songs and rarely- or never-performed gems, with special guests taking the stage for inspired numbers. Most prominently among them was Jersey's favorite son Bruce Springsteen, whom Jagger quipped "walked to the show."
Springsteen joined the band for a swinging, raucous "Tumbling Dice"; other guests included Lady Gaga, who soared on "Gimme Shelter"; Gary Clark, Jr., and John Mayer ripping the joint with Stones' guitarists Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards on a blistering "Going Down"; the Black Keys on "Who Do You Love?"; and former Stones guitarist Mick Taylor on a skulking "Midnight Rambler."
Production was relatively sparse by Stones standards, reminiscent of the "Elevation"-era U2 stage configuration, though it included powerful video elements like a montage of Stones' inspirations (from Howlin' Wolf to Merle Haggard to Miles Davis) during the top audience-request winner "Dead Flowers," and an animated, R-rated vignette behind a greasy "Honky Tonk Women." And the show was infused with a sort of purpose not always seen with the band across their touring career, as "Paint It Black" was mystic and melodic, "Wild Horses" tender and wounded, and "It's Only Rock 'n Roll" furiously on point.
There was also a somber moment during the show when Jagger dedicated "Wild Horses" to the victims of the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday.
"I just wanted to take a minute and send our love and condolences to those who lost their loved ones yesterday," he said.
While this was the final date of the Stones' mini-tour, it almost definitely won't be the last. Mick Taylor told Billboard this week that the band's latest revivial is about more than nostalgia.
"I think they just feel re-energized and possibly very enthusiastic about doing things in the future," he said. "I just have an intuitive feeling that if they want to do some more shows, they can. There's no reason why they shouldn't be able to."
At one point during the show, a source told Billboard.biz that the Stones were averaging $37 per head in merch sales -- with the venue's capacity being somewhere between 15,000 and 17,000 and the lowest-priced T-shirt at $40, that's a substantial haul.
Adding to speculation about more dates, by accident or design, an additional tour date -- at the Coachella Festival on April 12 -- appeared on the Stones mobile app for a few hours on Friday before being taken down. While no official tour dates have been announced, as the Magic 8 Ball might say, "all signs point to yes..."
Setlist From the Prudential Center: "Get Off of My Cloud" "The Last Time" "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)" "Paint It Black" "Gimme Shelter" [with Lady Gaga] "Wild Horses" "Going Down" [John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr.] "Dead Flowers" "Who Do You Love" [The Black Keys] "Doom and Gloom" "One More Shot" "Miss You" "Honky Tonk Women" "Before They Make Me Run" "Happy" "Midnight Rambler" [Mick Taylor] "Start Me Up" "Tumbling Dice" [Bruce Springsteen] "Brown Sugar" "Sympathy for the Devil" Encores: "You Can't Always Get What You Want" "Jumpin' Jack Flash" "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"