The Rolling Stones celebrated a musical milestone in 2002 - 40 years together as the longest surviving Rock'n Roll Band. The British Invasion veterans first toured America in June 1964. Their latest Licks World Tour has generated pandemonium over international ticket sales. The Stones are hotter than ever!
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts marked four decades in January. Second guitarist Ron Wood, the baby of the group, joined the band in 1975. Charlie Boy is the unsung hero of the Stones, powering the beat behind the skins. Watts, the oldest member, turns 62 in June as the Stones launch the 2003 European leg of their Licks World Tour.
The Glimmer Twins are simply sensational. Jagger and Richards have perfected their Rock Star status as global icons. Mick is in peak physical shape and is singing as strong as he ever has. Keith has charged up his guitar and is ready to play and sing his bum off. Wood is now sober and has complete command of his guitar faculties. Ronnie tears it up on the 1971 classic "Can't You Hear Me Knocking".
Many Stones fans are criticized for attending multiple Stones concerts on tour. There is no band out there that can even touch them live on stage, the Stones are legendary; living legends no less. They hyped their Licks World Tour with three different setlists for stadiums, arenas, and theaters. This was the prime motivator to hit the road and catch the Stones on as many dates as possible.
As an avid Stones fan, I always strive to catch multiple shows on every North American Tour. I managed to top out at 14 Licks concerts during their 2002 - 2003 jaunt across America. I attended the opening date in Boston on September 3, 2002, and the closing night on February 8, 2003, in Las Vegas. Gig after gig, their performance energy remained absolutely amazing.
I was blessed with attending one theater date. Experiencing the Stones in an intimate club performance is how they are meant to be heard. The nine arena concerts I saw were all outstanding, including fifth row for the B-stage at the Los Angeles Global Warming Benefit. Even more astounding were the four stadium spectacles I witnessed on tour featuring the recycled 'war horses' setlist. Thankfully, the band redeemed itself with their impeccable delivery.
Special stage moments just happen on the road along a Stones tour. The Stones hammered out several classics in Boston, including "If You Can't Rock Me", "Stray Cat Blues", and "Loving Cup". The band performed a soulful "Heart Of Stone" at the Philadelphia theater gig. Keith sang "Thru And Thru" in Toronto; first time I ever heard him sing this power ballad. Mick played acoustic guitar on a twangy "Sweet Virginia" in San Jose.
The one 'war horse' that is granted a pardon at every performance is their signature classic rock anthem "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". A dance party breaks out among the audience when the Stones launch into this tremendous rocker. That groove gets the house moving every time. The Stones resemble a fine wine, improving with age on stage after each new tour.
Over the course of the 2002 - 2003 Licks Tour, I traveled to seven states between the East Coast and the West Coast and one Canadian Province. I made a modest 14 Licks while other rabid Stones fans attended far more concerts. Unfortunately as with every Stones tour after the band got revved up and polished, they drifted into autopilot with the number of musical surprises contracting once the tour wore into 2003.
The Rolling Stones have been playing exceptionally well since their 1989 Steel Wheels Tour. Their 1999 indoor No Security Tour really raised the bar on Stones' performances. Their Licks Tour has even notched up their professionalism to yet another level. The band and their troupe of support musicians are firing on every piston. The Stones have truly set themselves apart from their peers and contemporary groups.
The Stones are currently engaged on a Spring Tour of new territories they have never played before in their prolific career. India and Thailand are on their 2003 itinerary. For those wallflower Stones fans out there who have never seen the band live on stage, time's a wasting. Rumors persist the Stones are returning to the States in 2004 for another indoor arena tour. Get your act in gear and fork over the dough for a Stones ticket to enjoy the World's Greatest Rock'n Roll Band live.
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Licks for good measure
Rolling with the Stones across America
by Timothy Tilghman