As expected, the Rolling Stones today (May 10) announced another mega world tour during a media event at New York’s Juilliard School of Music. The Rolling Stones On Stage outing begins Aug. 21 at Fenway Park in Boston, and tickets to many dates go on sale this weekend. As on the 2002-2003 Licks tour, the band will play clubs, theaters, arenas and stadiums, with each sized venue boasting unique production elements and set lists.
Longtime Stones tour promoter Michael Cohl tells Billboard.com the production for the stadium shows will be the biggest and “most interesting” the Stones have ever attempted, including a feature that will allow 400 fans to view the show from the stage. “You’ll get a great view of our bums, so we’re going to have to work on them a bit,” Mick Jagger said with a laugh.
The Stones performed their classics “Start Me Up” and “Brown Sugar” at the event, and also premiered a new song, “Oh No Not You Again,” slated to appear on its next, as-yet-untitled studio album. That set is due this summer via Virgin.
Tickets will average $100 in stadiums and $110 in arenas, not counting the gold circle seats, which Cohl defines as the “five or 10% where we try to get the high-priced ticket people to pay for the tour.”
“We haven’t really done the set list for the tour,” Jagger said. “I dare say we’ll work up some songs that we’ve never done before. Perhaps we’ll dig into the catalog and find some songs we haven’t done for awhile.” Added guitarist Keith Richards, “Sometimes they choose themselves.”
Cohl has been plotting the tour for about a year, and the Stones may stay out that long. “We’re announcing we’ll play the world, but right now the only thing that’s set is somewhere around 40 shows in North America,” Cohl says.
The strategy follows a now-familiar Cohl/Stones modus operandi: announce in May, begin in the fall, play until the beginning of December, take a break, “and then off we go to South America, the Far East and then Europe next summer,” Cohl says. “That’s the plan.”
With the new album on the way, this will be the first time since the Bridges to Babylon tour in 1997-98 that the Stones have toured in support of new material. “We tried to make this album a very direct album,” Jagger offered. “It’s a simple album with a lot of different ideas as far as lyrics are concerned. We tried to make it very wide-ranging and very hard-hitting, though it’s got its sensitive moments.” Richards added, “It kicks some ass.”
As on Licks, core Stones Jagger, Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood will be augmented by all-star sidemen Chuck Leavell (keyboards), Darryl Jones (bass) and Bobby Keys (horns), as well the same backup singers and horn section.
Thanks to Licks, the Stones were the top grossing touring act of 2003, ringing up just under $300 million from 116 shows. The numbers were second only to the band’s mammoth 1994-95 Voodoo Lounge outing, which took in $320 million.
With the Stones’ members now well into their 60s, could this be the final world tour blowout? “We don’t really plan tours and we certainly don’t announce the tour as the last tour,” Jagger said. “That’s a trap to try and get people to buy your tickets. We take each tour as it comes.”
Here are the Rolling Stones’ North American tour dates:
Aug. 21: Boston (Fenway Park)
Aug. 26: Hartford, Conn. (Rentschler Stadium)
Aug. 28: Ottawa, Ont. (Frank Clair Stadium)
Aug. 31: Detroit (Comerica Park)
Sept. 3: Moncton, N.B. (Magnetic Hill)
Sept. 6: St. Paul, Minn. (Xcel Energy Center)
Sept. 8: Milwaukee (Bradley Center)
Sept. 10: Chicago (Soldier Field)
Sept. 15: East Rutherford, N.J. (Giants Stadium)
Sept. 24: Columbus, Ohio (Nationwide Arena)
Sept. 26: Toronto (Rogers Centre)
Sept. 28: Pittsburgh (PNC Park)
Oct. 1: Hershey, Pa. (Hershey Stadium)
Oct. 3: Washington, D.C. (MCI Center)
Oct. 6: Charlottesville, Va. (Scott Stadium)
Oct. 10: Philadelphia (Wachovia Center)
Oct. 15: Atlanta (Philips Arena)
Oct. 17: Miami (American Airlines Arena)
Oct. 19: Tampa, Fla. (St. Pete Times Forum)
Oct. 21: Charlotte, N.C. (Charlotte New Arena)
Oct. 28: Calgary (Pengrowth Saddledome)
Oct. 30: Seattle (Key Arena)
Nov. 1: Portland, Ore. (Rose Garden)
Nov. 4: Anaheim, Calif. (Angels Stadium)
Nov. 11: San Diego (Petco Park)
Nov. 13: San Francisco (SBC Park)
Nov. 20: Fresno, Calif. (Save Mart Center)
Nov. 22: Salt Lake City (Delta Center)
Nov. 24: Denver (Pepsi Center)
Nov. 27: Phoenix (Glendale Arena)
Nov. 29: Dallas (American Airlines Center)
Dec. 1: Houston (Toyota Center)