If Hollywood’s Walk of Fame represents dreams (broken and fulfilled), glamour and “making it,” then last night’s Rolling Stones show at the Fonda Theatre, the kick-off to their Zip Code Tour, was definitely in the right place. As hordes of hopeful fans swirled about, mostly across the street (the area just in front of the theatre was blocked off for ticket holders only), those of us lucky enough to get in watched the rock & roll icons take the stage and play a brisk yet somehow relaxed-feeling set of hits, anchored by the entirety of one of their most nuanced releases, Sticky Fingers, which they’ve just re-issued with extra tracks and fancy new box-set doodads.
“Zip Code” refers both to the band’s travels into different parts of the U.S., and the iconic and provocative Sticky cover, featuring a male pelvis in jeans with a real working zipper. The Warhol-designed “package,” which also debuted the band's tongue logo for the first time, symbolized their lusty layers in more ways than one.
Yes, seeing Mick, Keith, Charlie, Ronnie and the rest of the band perform live in the small venue was pinch-yourself surreal. But as hardcore fans, we’ve had that feeling before, most notably at the Echoplex two years ago. In truth, seeing Jagger belt the soundtrack of all our lives in the flesh anywhere, in any size venue, is no less remarkable. The band's arena shows are spectacles everyone should experience once in their lives, high ticket prices notwithstanding.
But the big shows are vigorous, hit-heavy endeavors, and last night wasn’t about that. Even though they opened up with their most over-played number, “Start Me Up,” and followed it up with “When the Whip Comes Down,” we’ll venture to say that the billed “one-time only” Sticky set made this one of their most special shows ever. Like, ever, ever.
Anybody who says the old guys should hang it up would suck back those slags if they’d been there last night. The chemistry is still there, and it’s pure mojo. Jagger’s got the virile moves and vocals, Keef’s got the cool riffs (and just “the cool,” period) and Charlie's got the god-like aura from behind, framing the enduring Glimmer Twins rapport. Ronnie has provided pizzazz to this interplay since he joined the band. And while Mick Taylor fans have protested his apparent absence on this tour because he played on Sticky, Wood’s guitar work couldn’t really be criticized — not last night, anyway.
We got to absorb more of the band’s chemistry seeing them so close, of course, but it was Sticky’s slower tempo numbers that really laid it bare. “Brown Sugar” and “Bitch” are two of the Stones' best high-energy numbers, but the bluesy beauty of tracks like “Sway,” “Sister Morphine,” “I Got the Blues,” and “Moonlight Mile” enthralled like nothing else.
While some of these songs are subtle sonically, they sure aren't lyrically. Jagger noted that a lot of them have drug references, and they do, but it’s their intoxicating instrumentation that makes them truly special. We sang along to every single one, and were offended by anyone present who didn’t follow suit.
So who actually got in last night, anyway? Well, it wasn’t all celebs. Mick called out a few from the stage, but he was obviously joking: Jane Fonda and her dad Henry (he’s dead!), Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, Miley Cyrus and Dean Martin (also dead). None were there and he was probably poking fun at Hollywood’s name-dropper rep, but there was in fact, a star turnout, including Jack Nicholson, Bruce Willis and Harry Styles (that's a boy band guy, for you Stone-agers), to name a few.
The not-so-secret warm up gig became the hottest ticket in town yesterday after a massive banner featuring the tongue logo and the Hollywood zip code “90028” was hung on the side of the W Hotel. An announcement followed on RollingStones.com, saying tickets would go on sale at noon. They sold out in less than a minute. Many fans found themselves stuck in the AXS site’s “virtual waiting room,” only to get a pop-up that nothing was available. This prompted some accusations that the sale was fixed or fake, but we met quite a few last night who did score online. They paid $10 via credit card and were instructed to pick up their tickets at the El Rey before 3 p.m. yesterday. When they got there, they were handed back their money in cash, making it a free show.
Additionally, fans who responded to a Stones Facebook request for stories relating to Sticky Fingers were contacted yesterday, interviewed and filmed at the Fonda before the concert for a documentary, and then given two tickets for their trouble. No further info on the doc is available yet, but last night’s entire set was filmed, so fans who couldn't be there will hopefully be able to get Sticky soon, too.
Start Me Up
When the Whip Comes Down
All Down the Line
You Gotta Move
Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’
I Got the Blues
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Rock Me Baby (B.B. King cover)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Can’t Turn You Loose