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An evening with the Rolling Stones

June 3, 2013 - Mike Donahey
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards once said he was born to play rock n’ roll. And so were mates Mick Jagger, Darryl Jones, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood.

They proved it without a doubt to a packed and fired-up crowd in Chicago's United Center May 31, witnessed by yours truly while in the company of my lovely daughter.

I expect that mammoth building has re-aligned to its foundation by now after the Stones blasted it off with 2.5 hours of solid, pure rock n’ roll. There were no inflatables or fancy sets, just a legendary band who played their first gig in July, 1962.

They backed up their label as the “World’s Greatest Rock n’ Roll Band” from the beginning, with a rousing “Get off My Cloud,” followed by a red-hot “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll.” They didn’t need to get warmed up, as the band skillfully built upon the energy generated from one song to the next

Fellow rocker Sheryl Crow, attired in a sexy black leather outfit, came on for vocals in the high-energy “All Down the Line.” Other celebrities joining the band throughout the tour which began May 3 in Los Angeles have been John Fogerty, Katy Perry, Bonnie Raitt, Gwen Stefani, Keith Urban and Tom Waits. Former band member Mick Taylor had the crowd on its feet with sizzling licks on “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin“ "Midnight Rambler" and "Satisfaction."

Credit Watts — he laid down a steady drumbeat throughout the performance — perfect for the steaming guitar solos and other work by Jones, Richards, Taylor and Wood. Watts, the oldest member at 72, and who gets a massage after each performance, played the drums aggressively and with a passion on each of the bands’ 22 songs. He doesn’t get near the credit he deserves — as most publicity has centered around Jagger, Richards and Wood. All could be just fine with him. He’s seemingly been content to do his job always skillfully— he can get satisfaction knowing the audience or CD listeners, received their money’s worth. Frontman Jagger was in great form as well — his renown strutting and audience chatter were exemplary. At 69, he looks to be in good shape, with a body fat reading below 10.

Richards, 69, and Wood, 66 were thin as well, and looked like they could have played into the morning hours. Richards proved his lofty number 10 ranking in the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, especially with his opening chords on "Gimme Shelter." As one critic wrote: “The Rolling Stones are not ready for retirement and would’ve put to shame rockers half their age.”

The band was on a roll and the crowd on its feet for the final one-third of the concert with mega-hits “Miss You,” “Start Me Up,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Brown Sugar” “Sympathy for the Devil" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash." Chicago’s Roosevelt University Conservatory Choir did the opening lyrics of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” to the crowd’s delight. The band is now in the home stretch of its "50 Years and Counting Tour," with dates in Boston, Montreal, Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington. A July 13 show in London concludes the tour, and it could be the Stones' final concert.



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