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Thursday, November 03, 2005


The Rolling Stones at the Rose Garden - (11/1/05)

A friend of mine has a theory about the song "Angie." He aruges that it's a raunchy ode to a certain sex act that's still illegal in some parts of the country. I'm not convinced but, if you'd like, consider Mick Jagger's cockney pronuncation of "our souls." Over the years fans of the band have speculated it's either an innocent ballad Keith Richards wrote for his daughter or that it refers to a love triangle between David Bowie, his then wife and Jagger (which of the Stones' frontman slept with remains a mystery. It was probably both of them.).

As the crowd at the Rose Garden last night swayed back and forth under a million purple lights, I thought about asking the Baby Boomer couple in front of me as they slowed danced to "Angie." What did they think the song was really about? I decided not to bug them and also refrained from offering a penny for their thoughts on "Brown Sugar."

The Rolling Stones have a slot in my top three bands of all time. Despite the fact they've sold out more than any band has or ever will. Despite the fact I was born around the time they lost their last little bit of relevance. Despite the fact they look like the undead. The fact that "Brown Sugar" still receives airplay and that it's served as a soundtrack to a TV commercial, despite some of the most shocking lyrics in rock history, washes away a lot of memories of tongue-logo credit cards and daytime soap opera/Monday Night Football promos.

And like a lemming to the sea I showed up at the absolute last minute at the Rose Garden and wasted a positively stupid amount of money to get inside. For what it's worth, the price was much lower than the one on the ticket but it was still too damn much. Don't bother making fun of me. The enormous biker grandma I sat near has already done it for you. Still, I paid $65 less to be there than she did and I didn't have to sit through Motley Crüe's set.

To begin with the Stones played it safe and started the show with their arena standards "Start Me Up" and "It's Only Rock and Roll." Where was "Gimmie Shelter" or "Paint It Black," both songs ripe for dusting off given the current political climate and the fact that they brought along Lisa Fischer, a soul-singer with a set of lungs that could shatter the windows of a skyscraper? Who knows. The Stones also didn't bother to roll out "Sweet Neo Con," a new song which made Drudge Report headlines in August. The audience instead was led on a long tour through "Honkey Tonk Woman," "Miss You" and a Ray Charles tribute/cover.

But I had foolishly come looking for the Rolling Stones pre-Exile on Main Street and wound up with, for the most part, the Rolling Stones post-Some Girls. That's not to say it wasn't a great for what it was. Jagger can still move like a coked-up teenager and his voice stills sounds like it did in the '70s. Even at 62 he had more energy in his old bones than a million navel-gazing indie rockers. Just once I'd like to see a club guitarist pull off a off-hand move like Keith Richards did on Tuesday night. During "Slipping Away" he tossed a lit cigarette on the stage and picked it up after a guitar solo, declaring, "I can't just waste it." Do they even let guitarists smoke in clubs anymore?

I spent the show wedged between the biker grandma's family and a woman who looked like a junior-high librarian. She giggled like a Catholic school teenager at Richard's cigarette trick and tried to dance her way through "Satisfaction," vainly struggling to keep up with the gigantic CGI models on the stage's monitors as they slithered around various world monuments. She collapsed back in her seat about halfway through next to her husband, who came in a suit and spent the entire time sitting in his seat still as a rock. I thought the lady was going to have a stroke as she rose again to whip her head around to "Sympathy for the Devil." She made it 2/3s of the way through that one but was up again for "Brown Sugar" and "Jumping Jack Flash."

What made the price of the ticket worthwhile was the first song of the Stones' encore: "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Talk about your bittersweet scenes. The band dragged the song past the ten minute mark and by the end Jagger was running around the stage and waiving his arms like a televangelist. At the moment, I can't think of a better metaphor for their generation. 17,000 ex-Northwest hippies and their kids, each who paid upwards of $80 bucks to be there, dancing on the long-cold grave of a cultural revolution, completely oblivious to the words being spat out of all of those speakers.

But I guess that's what that song's all about. At least these people gave revolution a shot and, to their credit, they pulled off a sexual one. If you can't change the world, why not settle for cherry-red soda and overpriced concert tickets instead?

NOTE: This review should have been posted on Wednesday afternoon but my server decided to throw a temper tantrum. Anyway, here's a link to the Oregonian's review.

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