The Rolling Stones, in an uncommon move, supported the concept of global warming and appeared at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on Thursday, February 6, 2003. 6,000 pairs of tickets were given away to lucky Stones fans selected at random after entering an online ticket contest by the NRDC.
During Bill Clinton's brief cameo on stage, he addressed the issue of global warming. He joked the Stones were "not term limited". Finally after his meandering monologue, Clinton gave the Stones an over-the-top introduction as the World's Greatest Rock'n Roll Band.
Interjecting a minor modification in their usual arena repertoire, the Stones launched the sponsored benefit with their 1981 classic, "Start Me Up". Chuck Leavell propelled the melody on organ, and Charlie Watts was impeccably inspired behind the drums.
Mick Jagger's strong vocals and Ron Wood's bottleneck lead guitar fired up "You Got Me Rocking". Leavell bounced along on the piano, and Keith Richards added a choice guitar solo. Following the rocker, Jagger quipped about previous opening acts saying, "We never had a President open up for us".
The Stones performed a strong version of "Wild Horses" with Richards on harmony vocals. Blondie Chaplin played acoustic guitar support as Lisa Fisher and Bernard Fowler slow danced together. Surprisingly, the sound system cut out during the coda. The arena audience picked up the chorus and sang a few verses without band power.
The Stones treated Los Angeles with a powerful live take of "Bitch". The Horn section sounded off, and Keith Richards tore into his guitar solo. Jagger thanked the audience for their support of global warming. During band introductions, Jagger announced Watts as "the Wembley Whammer".
Richards made a humorous remark reflecting the theme of the evening, "You know, with all the global warming, the Eskimos are feeling the pinch". The December Glimmer Twin performed his 1972 Stones single, "Happy". Seated, Wood played dobro guitar. The Horn section and trio of back up vocalists added power to the performance.
"Sympathy For The Devil" featured guest African percussionist, Remy Kabaka, who remained on stage for three more songs, banging a small drum. Jagger appeared on stage in the dark, decked out with several souvenir blinking tongues. For his part, Richards ripped on two guitar solos.
Richards cranked up the intro for "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" with his exquisite guitar playing. Watts tapped out rim shots like door knocking, and Kabaka participated on percussion with a tambourine. Woodie's outstanding lead guitar solos alternated for applause with Bobby Keys' Saxophone solo during the crescendo-climax.
The Stones rocked on a terrific version of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Richards and Wood jammed together as a guitar duo during the bridge, and the "Hey Hey Hey" chorus got everybody worked up in a frenzy. Leavell's organ and Chaplin's acoustic guitar punched up the 38 year old classic rock anthem.
The Stones delivered an astounding live rendition of "Midnight Rambler" on the B-stage. Seeing Jagger's facial expressions up close were fascinating as he pranced seductively around the intimate stage. Wood tossed a guitar pick into the crowd, and I found it on the floor before anyone else had bothered to search!
A barrage of red paper petals burst above the arena floor during the spectacular encore of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and clouded the venue. Both Jagger and bassist Darryl Jones became animated on stage. The addition of the Horn section prompted the band to sprint toward a crescendo-finish of the classic 1968 single.
My friend had entered the online contest and won a free pair of fifth row tickets in front of the B-stage. Joining her at the concert was her birthday gift to me. This benefit event was the Stones' first free concert since the band performed two shows on behalf of the Canadian School for the Blind in Toronto on April 22, 1979.
Los Angeles setlist: Start Me Up * Street Fighting Man * You Got Me Rocking * Don't Stop * All Down the Line * Wild Horses * You Can't Always Get What You Want * Bitch * Tumbling Dice * introductions * Slipping Away * Happy * Sympathy For The Devil * Gimme Shelter * Can't You Hear Me Knocking * Honky Tonk Women * (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction * It's Only Rock'n Roll (B-stage) * Midnight Rambler (B-stage) * Brown Sugar (B-stage) Encore: Jumpin' Jack Flash
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heats up at Global Warming benefit
Stones stage concert to aid NRDC
by Timothy Tilghman