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Volume 34
Issue 42
 
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Friday, Jan 17, 2020

 

 



 
Rolling Stones Bang Qwest Field
Rolling Stones Bang Qwest Field
by Jessica Browning - SGN A&E Writer

- The Rolling Stones w/ Dave Matthews Band October 17 @ Qwest Field

Seattle has a love affair with The Rolling Stones, so huge it could barely be contained within the walls of Qwest Field on Tuesday evening. The entire stadium and grounds radiated so much anticipation and sheer joy for the arrival of the highly publicized "A Bigger Bang" tour that I've honestly never felt anything quite like it. Urban hipsters, 70s party girls-turned-2000's Eastside moms, aging rockers, gay couples, parents with rebellious kids in tow- people of all stripes - walked around in the hours before the show with faces lit up because of one common thread- a love for The Rolling Stones, the last of a shrinking set of true pioneers of modern rock and roll.

By a stroke of luck the fall evening was clear and cool, a perfect setting for the pristine, open air stadium to show off it's 67,000 capacity and impressive acoustics. Just about 9pm, a "big bang"- inspired fireworks display jolted the packed house into attention, complete with hurtling objects careening through space on the 2,450-foot video screen on center stage.

The opening bars of "Jumping Jack Flash" rang out, and the Stones were off and running. Mick Jagger, at 63, looked trim and sharp as ever, in black pants, a sparkling maroon jacket, and his trademark black soccer shoes. He pranced and preened his way around the stage as he's done since 1962- and he's still got the hip shakedown in such a way that you pay no mind to his age or to the well-earned lines on his face. He's a sight to behold, and has got the voice and the moves to back it up while commanding an audience. The band tore into "It's Only Rock and Roll", "Let's Spend the Night Together", and "She Was Hot", Keith Richards stomping around in a pale, knee-length trench and grinning ear to ear at the audience and fellow guitarist Ron Wood, who looked to be in fantastic shape. Drummer Charlie Watts, ever the mild-mannered, perfectionist drummer, appeared supremely calm in his usual way, but amused and noticeably appreciative of the crowd's thunderous response.

Not slowing up for a second, Jagger picked up his acoustic guitar and dueted with surprise guest Dave Matthews on the classic romp "Let It Bleed". (The lines were so long at the merchandise counters that I missed almost the entire set from openers Dave Matthews Band, but reports from those seated around me confirmed they sounded quite clear and perfect for the outdoor venue). A trio of backup singers, including acclaimed diva and 1992 Grammy winner Lisa Fischer, rounded out the vocal duties. Fischer, who started her career singing with Luther Vandross and Tina Turner, has performed with The Stones for the last ten years.

The palpable thrill of seeing these legendary performers live was heightened for me during the scorching buildup of "Midnight Rambler". It's always been a favorite of mine, and Jagger played harmonica and delivered his menacing, flirty vocals as well or better than any recording I've heard. "Tumbling Dice" followed and then to much cheering, Richards took the mic with a cigarette and a smile, saying "It's great to be here&it's great to be anywhere!", which I can only assume was a humorous nod to his recent fall from a tree in Fiji. He was haggard, he was swaggering, he was so characteristically Keith Richards that you had to just laugh and find him, somehow, oddly loveable. Especially when he rasped his way through "You Got The Silver", one of the best songs of Richard's career and the biggest surprise of the evening for me. "Little T&A" came next, and say what you will about his appearance or vocals, Richard's guitar playing is effortlessly masterful.

Apart from the sheer magnitude of the stage, complete with two six-story illuminated structures stretching out on both sides of the main platform (in which the first two levels contained ticketholders watching the show), there was still more spectacle to take in. Suddenly Jagger, Richards, and Wood gathered around Watt's drums and the entire platform broke away from the main stage and began to transport the band slowly down the catwalk to the far end of the stadium while playing "Under My Thumb". People sitting in the back seats and higher levels quite literally had the band come to them. As I looked up and watched the group pass in front of my eyes, as if on some sort of unbelievable parade float, I noticed Watts in particular looking down and peeking over his shoulder; drumming away but smiling in amusement at the fans beneath him. While the platform kept the band close to the audience in the back, at stage front a 30-foot high set of lips began to inflate. When the lights went up for "Honky Tonk Women", the gigantic Rolling Stones logo tongue uncurled to the tip of the stage.

Only a couple of songs from the newest album, A Bigger Bang, were worked into the set. These stood up to the rest of the back catalog, although I was a little surprised they didn't push the new material a bit more. Jagger changed into a black satin shirt with devilishly red lining to perform "Sympathy for the Devil" and the sinister screen images fit perfectly, right up to the bursts of flame at the foot of the stage and tops of the towers. The blasts were so strong that those of us fortunate enough to have floor seats could actually feel a bit of heat on our faces. In keeping with the moment's darker tones, "Paint It Black" and the cheeky, sexually charged visuals of "Brown Sugar" closed the set. An encore performance followed with "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and a final, energetic stomp through "Satisfaction".

Now that all is said and done in the weeks and weeks of anticipation and energy spent working up to this show, I have to say it was one of the biggest musical thrills I've ever experienced. Someday they'll be gone, perhaps replaced by others making names for themselves in rock history, but there will never be another Rolling Stones. They have proven time and time again, perhaps more so on this tour than any other, that a lifetime spent making music hones your skills in such a way that bringing top notch joy and showmanship to incredible crowds can still be done- and done expertly.

Here is a band at the top of their game, a near impossible feat for a group of musicians who've been at it for 44 years and counting. But just as it will for millions of others, Seattle's (and my very own) love affair with the Stones will continue and be passed on for generations to come.

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