The Rolling Stones are the quintessential British rock n’ roll band, but barring his accent, Mick Jagger could’ve passed for a local when the Stones played MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Thursday night (Aug. 1).
“This is our 90th show in the tri-state area,” Jagger announced to cheers. If his usage of the phrase “tri-state area” wasn’t enough to convince you he’s actually spent quality time in the region, he also shouted-out iconic Jersey diner Tick Tock — and in what is sure to finally quash the long-raging debate for good, he referred to eating “Taylor ham” (sorry, pork roll apologists) “with disco fries — and sloppy joe to go!”
Aside from parading his east coast bona fides, Jagger flaunted an irrepressible energy and vigor that’s astonishing not merely from a 76-year-old, but from a 76-year-old just four months out from freakin’ heart surgery. This first MetLife show was Mick’s tenth date on the rescheduled leg of the No Filter Tour, and there was no holding him back: he pranced, peacocked and gesticulated with as much flair as he’s brought to any show in recent memory. And when trading off vocals with an impassioned Sasha Allen during a wind-whipped “Gimme Shelter,” you could’ve closed your eyes and sworn you had time traveled back to 1969.
Similarly, the band’s scorching “Midnight Rambler” marathon demonstrated that not only are the Stones at their best when digging their heels into boozy blues-rock, but in 2019, they’re just as muscular, technically proficient and enthralling as they were when immortalizing “Rambler” on the classic 1970 live LP Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!. Keith Richards effortlessly scorches the crowd with downright nasty guitar licks, Charlie Watts keeps razor-sharp timing on the drums and Ronnie Wood — even after 44 years in the band — still plays with the joy of a kid who’s onstage with his rock gods for the first time.
The 21st century Stones might be at their best when stretching out on a good groove, but they’re nearly as captivating when playing the stripped-down section of their show, crooning country-tinged classics like “Sweet Virginia” and “Dead Flowers.” And ever the consummate entertainers, the demonstrative showmanship doesn’t disappear even when the volume knob goes down.
The evening’s “by request” song (one of four you could vote for online) turned out to be the effulgent psych-pop gem “She’s a Rainbow,” a song that SetList.fm says they’ve only played 18 times in concert. Ever the cynic, Jagger opined the audience voted for it “because it’s been in loads of commercials lately — that’s how it works!”
Likewise, Richards indulged in some affable pessimism when he took the mic for his two-song lead vocal spot: “Time to get a beer,” he said with a chuckle. Self-effacement aside, the quality of Richards’ “Before They Make Me Run” and “Slipping Away” is enough to prove that even without the Stones, he could have enjoyed a solo career of renown and relevance.
Fifty-five years since their debut LP and still as vital as ever, Jagger and Richards are unlike anything else in rock history. Honestly, we’re lucky to have them both — not merely walking among us, but as capable and invested in entertaining us as ever. With the No Filter Tour, you find out that sometimes, you actually do get what you want.