May 3, 2013
The Rolling Stones still put in the work, as was demonstrated by their stint here in Los Angeles over the last two weeks, which included a series of rehearsals in Burbank -- Falling James lurked outside -- and their secret show at the Echoplex.
Some may consider them dinosaurs, but we think they're as vital as ever, which was confirmed by last night's two hour plus tour kick-off show at the Staples Center.
The backdrop was a pair of giant lips, with a giant screen inside of it. Having been to many Stones shows, we can say that their stage set-up was one of their best ever. The "tongue pit," as it was being called, took up about half of the floor and was filled with fans, and a runway outlined its perimeter. It provided up close and personal time with Mick Jagger, who moved around it throughout the show. Seriously, when it comes to athleticism, Kobe Bryant's got nothing on Jagger.
Oh, and Jack Nicholson was there. He caused a hub-bub upon entering Staples, and sat in what looked like his usual Lakers seat. Jagger gave him a shout-out.
After a montage video featuring famous faces and random unknown fans waxing poetic about the Stones' eternal appeal, UCLA's marching band kicked things off with a lively version of "Satisfaction" -- right on the floor surrounding concert-goers. Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts kept the energy level high with opener "Get Off My Cloud," which took a couple of minutes to find its groove, but had the entire stadium chanting along by the end.
A fun oldie, "The Last Time," came next and, coupled with "Cloud," suggested the show's set list might be heavy on '60s material. Indeed, they mixed in late 60s stuff with more hits from their '70s heyday in the first hour.
"Hello L.A., or should I say Beverly Hills, Brentwood and parts of Santa Monica?" Mick quipped early in the show, perhaps referencing the exorbitant ticket prices that only fans in those neighborhoods could afford. Recent reports have suggested that the Stones have lost their ability to fill arenas. The "random seat" $85 tickets sold-out immediately, leaving $250 and $600 seats still available as late as yesterday, prompting the band to release more for $85.
But we suspect any price was worth it. The band's jubilant version of "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" was followed by a dramatically-lit rendition of "Paint It Black," and capped by a funky version of "Gimme Shelter," on which back-up singer Lisa Fischer's potent vocals did justice to Merry Clayton's original chorus.