NEWARK, N.J. — The Rolling Stones blew the roof of The Rock last night, putting a capper on their brief 2012 50th Anniversary run of dates, but seemingly setting the stage for more shows in 2013.
ROLL WITH IT
• Best ’50’ Tour Photos
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 & Counting, and to that point it seems doubtful that the Stones would have cranked up their musical machine at all if not 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 club tune-up date at a Paris club) and the band played as if they’ve been rocking the house for… 50 years: tight, focused and with style to burn.
The show, produced for ppv by Ken Ehrlich, was well-paced and expertly delivered, from it’s opening salvo by a Grrrr gorilla drumline 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 favorite son Bruce Springsteen, whom Jagger quipped “walked to the show.” Springsteen joined the band with a swinging, raucous “Tumblin’ Dice;” other guests included a go-for-broke turn on “Gimme Shelter” by Lady Gaga; Gary Clark, Jr., and John Mayer ripping the joint with Stones’ guitarists Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards on a blistering “Respectable,” the Black Keys on an electrifying “Who Do You Love”; and former Stones guitarist Mick Taylor on a properly creepy “Midnight Rambler.”
Production was relatively sparse by Stonesian standards, looking suspiciously like the “Elevation”-era U2 stage configuration, though featuring powerful video elements that included a montage of Stones’ inspirations (from Howlin’ Wolf to Merle Haggard to Miles Davis) during the top request winner twangfest “Dead Flowers,” and an animated, R-rated vignette behind a greasy “Honky Tonk Women.” Jagger did make reference to both the recent tragedy in Connecticut and the 12-12-12 Sandy benefit earlier this week, but as is the Stones’ wont the concert largely steered clear of politicism or anything else other than their gold standard rock ‘n roll. But 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.
In fact, the entire performance was as energetic, dynamic and musically proficient as any show of the Stones’ latter-era touring career, which basically began with Steel Wheels in 1989. With their stellar sidemen including Chuck Leavell on keys, Daryl Jones on bass and a rollicking horn section, the Stones played with an obvious vigor and passion; they looked like the were having a blast, and those in the house and around the world were the benefactors of the Stones’ good time. Even the normally dour Charlie Watts on drums smiled frequently, Richards and Woods played with skill and balls, and the show was an unqualified blockbuster. For his part, Jagger was in fine vocal for and virtually a non-stop maelstrom of rock ‘n roll, spinning, dancing, prancing, and doing the whole Jagger thing at peak powers.
Click here for the setlist.