The Rolling Stones are a bit like life and death. You never know which tour will be their last. I’ve known of them since my childhood. I’ve been a fan since I was in high school. So I decided to catch the Stones in their current, 2015 tour, which may be their last.
I saw them last Saturday night, July 11th, at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. I’ve been away from rock concerts and stadium culture for some time, so I had to reintroduce myself to both. More than 50,000 people also came to see the concert, so the neighborhood around the stadium began to get congested about 5 hours before the show. People on the surrounding streets decided to turn the intrusion to their advantage, so they charged money to have their lawns and driveways used for parking. Some even sold hot dogs.
We arrived in one of the lots about 3 hours before show time. After an hour of watching people tailgating, we went into the stadium, and sat near the top of the bleachers near the 50 yard line.
Probably the worst part of seeing a concert like this is watching my generation, the 70s rockers, get quite a bit older. Saturday night, they didn’t act much different than they had in the 70s. A number of them were drinking $10 beers. Some were wafting the air with weed.
The warmup act, an R & B band called St. Paul and the Bones, was decent, but I sat waiting for the main event. When the Stones came out, they gave the best concert I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of one by Ringo Starr, from the Stones’ rival band The Beatles.
The Stones could not compete with the Beatles as singers, or even, for that matter, as musicians. But they’ve always been first rate entertainers. Now into their seventies, they continue to give audiences their energetic all. Charlie Watts, probably the most underrated drummer in rock, is still driving the band with his rhythms. And lead singer Mick Jagger is as agile as he was 40 years ago. No small feat. Befitting the month of July, their show even featured fireworks.
It’s easy to forget how successful Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards have been as songwriters. But they played hits for two hours and fifteen minutes Saturday, and still didn’t have room for a number of their hits. I missed some of the mid 60s ones, such as “Get off of My Cloud” and “19th Nervous Breakdown.”
Still, what I heard and saw made a memorable experience. Now my friends who haven’t seen the Stones can be jealous of me.