Those Strolling Bones are at it again with another mega-excess world tour. When are they gonna pack it in? Isn't 40 years of the same old grind more than enough time for them to have called it quits? How old are these guys anyway? Drug testing would determine if these guys are mixing steroids, viagra, and geritol as pharmaceutical concert fuel.

     Well, don't let the ney-sayers fool you - THE ROLLING STONES ROCKED BOSTON! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the Rolling Stones still rule the road. GOD bless the musical fortunes of the Stones. The Rolling Stones launched their 15th North American Tour on Tuesday, September 3, 2002, at the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts.

     With a low profile, the Rolling Stones, joined by keyboardist Chuck Leavell and bassist Darryl Jones, appeared on the FleetCenter stage and commenced their 2002 Licks World Tour with the 1968 Beggars Banquet classic, "Street Fighting Man". A black curtain was pulled aside from behind the band to reveal a huge state-of-the-art video screen with a pair of female lips wearing red lipstick, blowing kisses.

     The first major musical surprise of many was "If You Can't Rock Me", a 1974 rocker. Mick Jagger was looking great, sounding strong, and Charlie Watts was dynamite on drums. This Stones classic has been missing from their repertoire for far too long. "There's nothing so exciting as starting an American tour on the first night", was Jagger's greeting as he tossed off his bright blue windbreaker, "And there's nothing so exciting as starting it here in Boston".

     "We're doing something new now, it's called Don't Stop", was Jagger's introduction for their anticipated single off Forty Licks. Jagger played an electric guitar as those red lips returned to feature a roaming tongue lapping and licking itself suggestively. Ron Wood's guitar had the Ronnie-Cam mounted on it to project his guitar playing on the video screen.

     Another lost treasure, "Stray Cat Blues" began with a fine guitar intro by Keith Richards. Wood played a spirited guitar solo, which had a great groove. "Wild Horses" was brilliant in delivery. Richards joined in on back up vocals. Lisa Fisher was decked out in a short, skimpy red dress with a thin wrap and black fishnets with heels.

     The Licks debut concert at the FleetCenter featured a suite of songs from 1972's Exile On Main Street. "Loving Cup" led off the foursome, first performed at the July 1969 Hyde Park concert in memory of the late Brian Jones. Jagger played an acoustic guitar while the quartet horn section literally came up from out of the stage. "Rocks Off" cranked, spotlighting a hot guitar solo by Wood.

     The Stones tore into "Rip This Joint" as Watts pounded the skins for this fast-paced rocker. Jagger ventured out onto the center floor catwalk during a horn-drenched "Tumbling Dice". Wood ripped on another characteristically strong solo. When Watts was introduced, he lifted his pant leg to reveal his red socks, a surprise nod to local baseball fans.

     After band introductions, Richards commented, "What a place to warm up, thank you", and sang "Slipping Away". Richards took off his guitar and sat it upright before playing several commanding solos. Blondie Chaplin added support on acoustic guitar. "Without any further ado", he launched into his 1972 single, "Happy". Wood blistered on a bottle neck lead solo.

     The 1972 O'Jays single, "Love Train", was a peculiar performance selection. Watts snuck in a brief drum solo as the throng clapped along. The FleetCenter crowd responded to this cover version by gyrating in their seats. Their reaction prompted Jagger to remark, "That was fun". Richards' guitar chirped into their 1971 classic, "Can't You Hear Me Knocking". Watts and Chaplin lead a percussion break with Watts literally getting into the swing of the mood as Bobby Keys blew away on sax.

     "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" appeared in the middle of the concert. The Stones presented a group version of the song without the embellishment impact of the full band. Richards churned out the classic 1965 guitar line, Watts bashed away on the drums, and Wood played a guitar model that resembled one used by Brian Jones during a 1966 Ed Sullivan broadcast performance of this Stones' career milestone.

     The B-stage performance has become a regular feature of modern Stones concerts. Begun in 1997 during their Bridges To Babylon Tour, this exciting up close and intense jam is still an unreal moment to experience during a Rolling Stones concert. The Stones fired off "Mannish Boy" with Jagger on harmonica, a throwback to R&B covers from their early club dates.

     "Neighbours", a 1981 track off Tattoo You, however, was an unexpected choice. The improved `50's style arrangement breathed renewed life into the number, which featured crunching guitars and Watts holding down a strong beat. Keys joined the band on the intimate stage for an incredible version of "Brown Sugar". The extended coda was a magical stage moment. The whole band walked through the crowd to a corner floor exit before emerging again for their Fleet encore.

     Bathed in red lights with a projected tongue logo on fire, the Stones tore into their tour de force of "Sympathy For The Devil" with depoliticized lyrics . Richards was on fire himself, turning in red hot solos. Jagger pranced around stage with a Stones insignia T-shirt. The Glimmer Twins took turns stalking the side stage staircases to incite fan reaction.

     A second encore of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was greeted with red paper petals pumped above the floor section and red dots dropping down the video screen. Jagger cruised along the catwalk to sing as Richards jammed away on stage like a rock guitar hero. Following a phenomenal premiere performance, the full band took a bow on stage together. "Thank you very much, it's a great first show!", was Jagger's parting comment.

     Randy Craig of White Rock, British Columbia, has traveled for Rolling Stones concerts across Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. He mentioned his reason for coming to Boston was because, "It was opening night and I wanted to get out of town". His favorite number was "Wild Horses", but cites the subdued Boston audience as acting more like a Moody Blues crowd.

     Hyped as a 40th Anniversary celebration, this unfolding tour promises three alternating setlists in three unique venues for five larger markets on this current tour leg. The Rolling Stones came crashing into the new millennium with a stage presence unequaled by any performing unit out on tour today. Don't be surprised if these British Invasion veterans mount another world tour in 2005.

Boston setlist: Street Fighting Man * If You Can't Rock Me * It's Only Rock'n Roll * Don't Stop * Stray Cat Blues * Wild Horses * Loving Cup * Rocks Off * Rip This Joint * Tumbling Dice * introductions * Slipping Away (Keith) * Happy (Keith) * Love Train * Undercover Of The Night * Can't You Hear Me Knocking * Honky Tonk Women * (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction * Mannish Boy (B-stage) * Neighbours (B-stage) * Brown Sugar (B-stage) * Encore: Sympathy For The Devil * Jumpin' Jack Flash

RockonTour   Issue #12
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2002 RoT
                  the Single Source for the Concertphile

Boston Tongue Party
The Rolling Stones launch 2002 Licks World Tour

by Timothy Tilghman