by Harry Parmenter
“Anyone here from San-ta Mon-ee-kah?” Mick Jagger stated onstage at the Rose Bowl, flaunting his knowledge of local geography between songs. Sadly, while polling audience members from Glendale, Pasadena, “the Valley” and “The OC” he failed to name check “San-ta Clar-ee-tah!” That was about the only thing missing from his repertoire last week in front of over 50,000 people at the Rose Bowl.
The Rolling Stones hit Los Angeles on the last leg of their American “No Filter” tour in top gear. If you’ve ever heard Jagger interviewed he often mentions the need to “deliver” regardless of artist age or accomplishment. His band continues to do just that; as they have since they first played here a staggering 55 years ago.
Mick and his partner in crime, Keith Richards, met as teens united by a passion for the blues played by artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter and Muddy Waters; and, like their heroes, they are still playing the blues well into the twilight of their lives.
Knocking out the hits for a good two hours, the Stones ignored Father Time with a powerful, joyous performance. Opening with their classic 60s anthem “Street Fighting Man,” they cruised through the first half of the set with gems like “She’s a Rainbow,” “Paint it Black” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (introduced by a French horn solo, no less). The four horsemen, Jagger, Richards, Ronnie Wood and implacable drummer Charlie Watts, strolled out to a center stage riser in the midfield to play sparkling acoustic versions of “Sweet Virginia” and “Dead Flowers” before returning to the main stage and ramping things up with “Sympathy for the Devil.”
From there it was an accelerating sprint to the finish line with a long, intense burn through “Midnight Rambler,” Jagger’s harmonica prowess on full display through the sinister darkness of that signature show stopper. “Miss You,” “Brown Sugar” and a peak finish of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” preceded a blazing encore of “Gimme Shelter” and the inevitable, eternally invigorating “Satisfaction.”
The crowd roared their approval throughout, a wide span of ages dominated by baby boomers adorned with band apparel of all kinds. I was fortunate enough to be fairly close to the stage and, despite having seen the band before, came away more impressed than ever, especially with Mick Jagger. The man is 76, just had a stent put in his heart, and he doesn’t stop moving the entire show, singing, dancing, playing guitar and harp; he is a force of nature, the ultimate rock star, a performer unlike anyone I’ve ever seen grace a stage. He delivers, and then some.
Even as they approach 80(!) the Rolling Stones continue to fill stadiums around the globe night after night. Nomads of the fading rock ‘n’ roll scene, the likes of them will never be seen again.