THE ROLLING STONES
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
After what was originally scheduled as the opening show of the postponed March Australian tour, Perth finally got its first Rolling Stones concert in almost two decades last night. Perth Arena had long ago sold-out for this event, which was clearly a date with a life-soundtrack for 13,300 fans.
Two minutes of jungle rhythms and syncopated red lighting tumbled into the band’s 1981 hit, Start Me Up, with Keith Richards and Ron Wood’s edgy guitar play – dancing off (and duelling with) each other – rocking immediately off the Arena walls, as Mick Jagger stormed down front of stage, taking ownership of the audience, and keeping it for the next two hours.
Apologising for the delay and thanking the city for its patience, Jagger led a seductive assault that was deliberate, entertaining and enthralling. Before you knew it the Stones’ lives – and everyone’s – were flashing before the audience’s collective eyes, with Get Off My Cloud, It’s Only Rock And Roll and Tumbling Dice wooing an already won-over crowd. A few songs in, the Stones unveiled a deep cut, the rarely – if ever – performed Worried About You, from the 33 year-old Tattoo You album, which found Jagger at front of stage playing keyboards (he played a surprising amount of guitar during the show as well) and unleashing a crackalackin’ good falsetto vocal that echoed to the rafters.
While the band’s newest song, Doom And Gloom, and the lesser-known Out Of Control, eased the intensity a little, a life-changing song was never too far away. Bitch was the crowd-voted song for the evening and kicked out of the stall courtesy of the horn section; Honky Tonk Women featured a saucy Battle Of Britain-themed cartoon on the giant screens, while Jagger wiggle-hipped on the ramp around the ‘Tongue Pit’ and Chuck Leavell tonked appropriately on piano.
In terms of banter, Jagger was wry and playful. ‘We’re staying at a motel in Dogswamp’ he joked, ‘and we’re still waiting on our drinks invitation with Gina Rinehart’.
When it came to introducing the band, Jagger was fond, yet cheeky still: ‘the sometimes malnutritious’ Ron Wood; (cricketer) ‘Justin Langer’s new best friend, Charlie Watts’, and, ‘to play and sing for you, Keith Richards’. The Human Riff announced he was not only happy to be here, but happy to be anywhere (he’s been saying that line for years) and the crowd seemed to hug him like an uncle, as he and Wood led the band into a majestic You’ve Got The Silver. Written by an old soul and now sung by one, the hue and husk was all there. He followed with I Just Can’t Be Seen, from 1989’s Steel Wheels album, which was clearly a bit of a mystery to most of the audience, who were likely holding out for Keef’s signature tune, Happy. While Jagger pranced and preened all night – his studies in Nureyev and Marceau on show – Richards was more measured with his runs around the ramp. The guitar remains, however, the drop-dead-cool-calm-and-casual extension of the man. Wood was his foil, a ciggie forever in his mouth which was forever etched with a cheeky-bastard-grin, guitarmonies and trills abounding.
An expert harmonica howl from Jagger saw ex-member Mick Taylor saunter on stage, the band tearing into Midnight Rambler, an essay in darkness and dynamics to this day with the enigmatic Watts offering elegant, steadfast drumming, as he did all night. And it went on, Miss You, Jumping Jack Flash, Brown Sugar and Sympathy For The Devil (with Jagger cloaked in a full-length red feather cape, he was backed by the exquisite, soulful vocals of Lisa Fischer). It was all played with gusto that would be the envy of men half their age.
By the time Satisfaction closed the evening (with Taylor back on acoustic guitar), the audience had exactly that. Even so, many walked out the exit doors contemplating if they could afford a ticket for Saturday night.
I walked in like an excitable 12 year-old.
When I walked out I was 8.