"Fifty Years and Counting" is what theyʼre calling it. Mind you, that doesnʼt mean their ages: that means how long the Rolling Stones have been playing together as a band. And what a glorious career it has been. When you think about it, itʼs amazing that the core of this band has grown up and grown older with each other. The aging shows only in their faces though. All four still sport the lean bodies of their youth and in no way have the years diminished their star power on stage.
Even when the Stones arenʼt touring, they donʼt really go away. Both Mick and Keith have published autobiographies in the past couple of years and can be found at various high (she says wryly) society events. Ronnie Woodʼs relationships with the ladies and experiments with sobriety always make for gossip fodder (heʼs resolved both with clarity recently) and heʼs quite the visual artist as well. Charlie Watts, the Stone most averse to publicity and one of the worldʼs best dressed men, runs a horse stud farm with his wife and performs in jazz clubs.
This tour, long rumored, celebrates a union which has certainly seen its share of ups and downs. But in the end, The Stones still rule the rock 'n' roll roost. In addition to the four “official” band members (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Charlie Watts), longtime touring members bassist Darryl Jones, keyboardist Chuck Leavell, saxman Bobby Keys, Philly-born horn player Andy Slitzer with backup singers Lisa Fischer, Blondie Chaplin and Bernard Fowler completing the stage performance. Former Stones bassist Bill Wyman was offered the opportunity to come along on the tour to play a song or two, but he declined. But concert goers do get a special treat with the addition of one time Stones guitarist (post-Brian Jones) Mick Taylor on several songs during the set. And as if that werenʼt enough, in the cities early on in the tour, guest performers have been brought up on stage. Their ranks have included Gwen Stefani, Keith Urban, Katy Perry, Tom Waits, John Mayer, Dave Grohl, John Fogerty and Bonnie Raitt . Thereʼs no telling who could join them on stage during their two shows in Philly, but the guessing is fun. Patti LaBelle? The Roots? In each city, theyʼve also been bringing up an area choir or ensemble to add to the chorus of "You Can't Always Get What You Want." John Debella (WMGK/Mornings) has begun a campaign to get The Philadelphia Boys Choir on stage at the Wells Fargo Center for these performances.
The show has been running about two-and-a-half hours with 23 or so songs. There are expected Stones stalwarts, ("Gimme Shelter," "Satisfaction," "Jumpinʼ Jack Flash") but theyʼve been switching up the setlist here and there, adding in some unexpected delights ("Factory Girl," "All Down the Line"). Mick Taylor gets the chance to shine on "Midnight Rambler" and itʼs a good possibility that weʼll also be treated to his incredible solo artistry on "Can't You Hear me Knockin'." Keith gets a couple of back to back vocal turns midway through the set with "Before They Make Me Run" and "Happy." In each city, the band has been giving the audience to vote pre-show for what song theyʼd like to hear during the concert.
￼Mick's still got the “moves like Jagger” swagger. And this band can still play. But who knows for how long? If you can afford the ticket price, youʼll want to catch these living legends before time is no longer on their side.
Tuesday, June 18: 7:30 p.m.; Friday, June 21, 8 p.m. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., Philadelphia. $147-$597. Visit Comcasttix.com for details.
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