The Rolling Stones @ Wells Fargo Center – June 18
Words: John Walsh
Photos: Brendan McDermott
“Is everybody ready? …Is everybody ready?” – a phrase often tossed around among fans of the Rolling Stones just before show time.
“Is everybody ready? …Is everybody ready?” – famously quoted as being heard among the band and their closest allies just before the lights go down and they hit the stage.
I can only imagine the thoughts and memories flying through the heads of those in the audience that have been listening to the Stones for as long as they’ve been playing – a lifelong companionship between the listener and the messenger coming to fruition in person one more time. After 50 years, it seems obvious that the main reason for the band and fans to meet one more time was out of the love and excitement that only rock and roll can conjure. Those thoughts left my mind and were replaced with the sound of exhilaration as the lights went down in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
[Photos by Brendan McDermott]
After an insightful and humorous introductory video that included interviews with what seemed to be a who’s who of celebrity Stones fans discussing their passion for the band’s music, the legendary group hit the stage just shy of 9:00 PM and slammed right into Get Off Of My Cloud. The smiles and awe were abundant – both on and off stage. Early highlights of the show included a fierce vocal solo from Lisa Fischer on Gimme Shelter, followed by one of the only slower numbers of the night, Wild Horses. Wild Horses really allowed the band to open up vocally, and the harmonies shined.
Country guitar hero and star Brad Paisley joined the band for a fantastic take on the Sticky Fingers classic Dead Flowers which, after hearing speculation from concertgoers in the lot, seemed to go over quite well. Ron Wood and Paisley traded licks, while Charlie Watts did what he does best behind that drum kit of his. It was a delight to see that the band was having just as much fun as the audience. Mick Jagger was impressed enough to let the Philly crowd know that he thought they had sounded the best on the tour thus far after a well played Emotional Rescue. Keith Richards soon stepped into the spotlight and gave a nice birthday wish to the city and joked about who was older, Philadelphia or himself. After a brief introduction, Richards led the band into two fan-favorite deep cuts – Let It Bleed’s You Got the Silver as well as the Some Girls classic Before They Make Me Run.
The crowd had no problem letting Keith and the band know that they were enjoying the show, especially when former Stones guitarist Mick Taylor joined the band and crushed an extended guitar solo during Midnight Rambler that even had Mick Jagger saying “Yeah!” in between his harmonica accompaniment. The Stones do what they do best as they played a very tight version of the 1978 radio mega-hit Miss You, which included some very tasty bass work from Darryl Jones and a great call and response segment between Mick and the crowd as he strutted the stage in that truly unique Mick fashion.
After tearing through Start Me Up, Tumbling Dice and Brown Sugar, the band played a monster set closing version of Sympathy for the Devil that featured some of the biggest and baddest sounding guitar work I’ve heard in the longest time. As Mick and Keith strutted the outer rim of the stage, Keith’s guitar solo ended as he walked by Mick who launched into the chorus’s opening line “Pleased to meet you…”. If it was scripted, it was scripted perfectly; if unscripted, even better – two companions and musical brothers passing by one another with that line being sung and that guitar solo searing to an end was something to behold, and was the highlight of the night for me. The encore featured Philadelphia’s The Crossing Choir on You Can’t Always Get What You Want. As the show ended after fantastic takes on Jumpin Jack Flash and Satisfaction (the latter of which found Mick Taylor back on the stage), I found myself leaving the show just as I had entered – with a smile on my face.
During the always hectic post-concert stroll out of the venue, I was quick to notice that I wasn’t the only one. High fives, laughs and excitement again filled the concourse of the arena as fans both young and old realized what we were lucky enough to witness. Not only did we get to spend an evening hearing some of the best songs in the history of rock and roll, we were able to again check into that place where nothing matters except the synergy between band and audience. The only difference here is that the synergy between the band and audience here has almost been a lifelong affair – 50 years worth, to be exact. It’s something to be admired, and it’s something to be remembered. It’s also something that we may never see from this band again. This could be the last time seeing the Stones for this concert go-er, and I’m glad that they enjoyed playing it as much as I did seeing it. Love them or hate them, 50 years is impressive – and they deserve the accolades they receive. They rolled into town, took care of business and are now preparing for another show in Philadelphia on June 21st.
“Is everybody ready?”
There is no doubt in my mind. We are always ready.