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Rolling Stones: Anaheim May 2013 –Review by Ron Wells

May 29, 2013
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The set list says more about the Rolling Stones concert in Anaheim than anything else. It’s like the coolest jukebox one could ever imagine, and yet you feel like bitching about the songs that weren’t included. But hey, what would you take out? No, they could play all night long and you still wouldn’t hear every song you wanted to hear.
On at 8:50 PM:
Get Off Of My Cloud
It’s Only Rock n’ Roll
Paint it Black
Gimme Shelter
You Got Me Rocking
Wild Horses
Bitch (with Dave Grohl)
Shattered (first time on this tour)
Doom And Gloom
One More Shot
Honkey Tonk Women
You Got the Silver (with Keith on lead vocal) (first time on this tour)
Happy (with Keith on lead vocal)
Miss You
Start Me Up
Tumbling Dice
Brown Sugar
Sympathy For The Devil
You Can’t Always Get What You Want (with the USC Thornton Chamber Choir)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Off at 11:05 PM
So one is left with the show you got. And a damn fine show it was. Was it worth $175 to $2,000? Not for me or anyone I know, but for others it sure seemed like that was ok. For my friends and I, $85 was the bargain of bargains. Yes, we sat 3 rows from the top at the opposite end of the arena, but who cares. It was fantastic. We heard about some people in line behind us who got pit tickets with their $85 random envelope, and so, good for them! That’s the way it should be. The seats behind the stage were left vacant, but the rest of the arena was 90% full with the majority of fans standing and dancing for almost all of the show; even those who were up high near the ceiling.
The giant tongue/mouth logo framed the stage, with a screen behind Charlie and two screens up high on either side. A horseshoe-shaped ramp connected to the main stage, and people stood in the pit inside of the U.The sound where we were sitting was very good; Mick’s voice was clear and the guitars sounded great.
After that, it’s all about the music and personal preferences. For me, Keith doing You Got the Silver was worth the price of admission alone. Ronnie stood next him and the band came in and built behind them as the song progressed. And somewhere from the distant past, the lyrics: “A flash of love has made me blind/ I don’t care, no, that’s no big surprise,” because “she had the silver and the gold.” And memories rushed back as if sung yesterday. Spectacular moment.
As was Midnight Rambler, with Mick Taylor on board to do some fine work. Jagger’s harmonica, along with him creeping menacingly around the stage, played out as the song rose and fell in tempo. Scary, bluish lighting made for a mini-horror movie right in front of your eyes. Being in an arena, rather than an outdoor stadium, just seemed to add to the tension of this song.
From there, there were just these luminous, wonderful moments. Keith riveted my attention all night long. In his jean jacket and headband, the first licks of so many songs that he wrote were instantly recognizable. Plus, he just looked so damn cool and seemingly played so effortlessly. Yeah, Keith, as much as anybody, embodies everything–good, bad, transcendent, challenging—that is rock and roll.
Evidently sobriety fits Ronnie Wood, because his solos were tight all night long. From the pedal steel of Happy, to nailing his turns on Tumbling Dice and You Got Me Rocking, Ronnie was in fine form. 
Charlie is so steady it almost makes you wonder if he’s human. All night long, including when he wore the headphones during Sympathy for the Devil to to get the backing tracks, he was the the man with the beat around which everything else swirled. No wonder, Charlie is the darling of so many people.
And let’s not forget Lisa Fischer, on Gimme Shelter, whose voice could penetrate brick walls, move clouds to cry, and who added substance and context to the “rape and murder going on in the war that’s just a shot away, when love is just a kiss away.” Powerful, powerful stuff.
Dave Grohl frantically ripped at his guitar during Bitch, while Charlie looked on with a smile on his face.
The choir, which decades ago always seemed so ironic in a Rolling Stones song, sounded perfect and beautiful now in the context of You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Again, a perfect moment with the crowd being led by Mick in singing the repeating chorus. Very nice. 
There were funny moments too, Mick asking the limo driver how he’d be going from LA to Anaheim, and then Mick repeating slowly a jumble of numbered freeways: “The 405 to the 605 to the 105” etc. Later, an animated video playing behind the stage and showing, among other things, a buxom woman climbing the Empire State Building and swatting at biplanes piloted by gorillas during Honky Tonk Women. And, of course, Mick wearing a long, black, feathery/fringed cape during the opening of Sympathy for the Devil: “Please allow me to introduce myself,” while the stage was ominously bathed in red lights.
Weaknesses? A matter of taste I guess, but I could live forever without ever needing to hear Miss You again.
I saw the Rolling Stones many times in the 70’s. For $8.50 I saw Stevie Wonder open for them and sing an astounding version of Rockin’ Robin. I saw Cheech and Chong, and Santana open for them in the Nicaraguan benefit show at the Forum; the one in which Mick came out wearing a tiara. There was the show in which the stage unfolded like some giant lotus blossom, and Mick hung on and peaked out at the audience as the stage opened. There were others, but this was the first one since all those years ago
Yeah, they’re charging way too much money, but if you have a way to come up with the cash, or can sneak by security, or luck into an $85 ticket, then, well, you gotta go. The band (including Darryl Jones) is tighter than ever, the backup players (Bobby Keyes, Chuck Leavell, et al) are exceptional, the hits keep a-comin’, and you can name that tune in three notes or less.
I’m a Bruce Springsteen fan, a Bob Dylan fan, but I had a lot of fun last night. Was it the  best show I’ve ever seen? Probably not. But who cares. It was like Jumpin’ Jack Flash’s gas, gas, gas, come to life. Yeah, they’re getting old. They’re definitely slower. But who isn’t. You can only hope that you’ll be as vibrant as they are when you reach their age.
Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, and other blues masters played over the sound system as we walked in. This band is just a continuation of all of that. There’s nothing thematically deep going on here. Just tight musicianship playing and singing hard, catchy, straight-ahead rock and roll soaked in blues, country, and pop music. Some of the best ever written or played over the last 50 years. 
It’s been a long, long road. “I’m no schoolboy, but I know what I like.” And what I need to do right now is go listen to Let it Bleed, or Aftermath, or Beggars Banquet or Exile on Main Street or………
For somewhere Muddy Waters is singing, “I’m a rolling stone.” And last night’s show connected all that that entails
 
 
–Ron–
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