15 March 2006

The Rolling Stones @ Radio City Music Hall - 14 March 2006

While at least half of the NYC based music bloggers are off to Austin for SxSW, I had to stick around town to work and do normal stuff. In a way, thank goodness for that because yesterday I got an offer for a free ticket to see The Rolling Stones. The freaking ROLLING STONES. For free. I didn't even know they were supposed to be in town, so the first question I asked (after I already said I'd love to take the ticket...I mean, if you love seeing live music you do NOT turn down a free Stones ticket) was "where are they playing?" The answer totally surprised me - Radio City Music Hall. Wow. So a band that generally plays for 20,000-100,000+ people at a time were going to play for about 6,000 people?! Amazing.

Turns out the show was a benefit concert for the Robin Hood Foundation, something I actually knew was supposed to happen but had forgotten about. At my job we've done quite a bit of work for them and that's in fact how the ticket came my way. The tickets were sold to people and corporations for quite large amounts (from $100-7,500 each I believe) and in the end, ALL of the money from the sale of these tickets went directly to Robin Hood. Directly to help people in need. It's a really fantastic organization and I suggest you at least check them out. Last night they raised around $11 million.

Back to talking about the music. So, Sheryl Crow was supposed to open the show but couldn't for obvious reasons. Instead, The B-52's filled in and did a great job. I got there in time to see half of their set. Having already seen them once before I knew what to expect, and they didn't disappoint. They warmed the crowd up with their tight, groovy, southern dance-rock and then made way for the headliners. Headliners that, surprisingly, had never played this venue before.

The Rolling Stones came out, with a huge video screen behind them, jamming out "Jumping Jack Flash". It was sloppy at first - Ron Wood and Keith didn't seem to be on the same page, but that was quickly worked out. You could tell that the Stones were on from the moment they took the stage and they didn't let up for the entire show. I'll post the setlist below but some highlights for me were "Shattered", "Gimme Shelter", "Midnight Rambler", and "Sympathy For The Devil". They nailed each of those songs. I even got chills during "Gimme Shelter" and, frankly, I'd not really consider myself a Rolling Stones "fan". I own probably three albums and a couple of their hits compilations but there is little doubt in my mind that they've more than earned their title of "The world's greatest rock 'n roll band". The Stones are living legends who've been at it for 40+ years. Everything that makes a band an awesome live act they do better than any other band. They play each show like they're lucky and grateful to be playing rock music for a living and they clearly enjoy themselves on the stage. Everything that their predictably enthusiastic audience gives to them they give right back. They draw the crowd in and then they rock their faces off. All of this they do at 60+ years old, and all of this they did last night at a benefit concert when they very easily could have just phoned one in.

My seat wasn't as far away as the picture here would lead you to believe but I couldn't really get a great shot by zooming in. That didn't matter much to me with all of the greatness that happened on the stage. A few favorite moments: when the drum set and the rest of the band came out onto the stage extension and played a few songs (a common occurrence at Stones shows but something very cool to see in such a small venue), when Keith took front and center (Mick left the stage entirely) and played "This Place is Empty" and "Happy", and then the best part - when Keith and Mick walked up the balconies on each side of the auditorium and played and sang from there. It's near impossible for me to explain any further how sweet it is to see The Rolling Stones live, or for me to fully say how lucky I feel to have been able to see them at Radio City last night. Take my word for it - amazing amazing show.

A few celebs I saw - Lenny Kravitz, Paul Shaffer, Harvey Weinstein, and John McEnroe. I'm sure there were a bunch more there. In fact, a funny moment happened when Mick commented about the audience (something to the effect of) "this is probably the wealthiest audience we've ever played for...more so than Dubai even...and you guys probably have more wives too".

Here's the setlist:

Jumping Jack Flash
It's Only Rock'n Roll
Oh No Not You Again
Tumbling Dice
Worried About You
Gimme Shelter
Midnight Rambler
--- Introductions
This Place Is Empty (Keith)
Happy (Keith)
You Got Me Rocking
As Tears Go By
Get Off Of My Cloud
Sympathy For The Devil
Honky Tonk Women
Start Me Up
Brown Sugar
You Can't Always Get What You Want (encore)
Satisfaction (encore)
Setlist was found HERE where you can also find a more in-depth review of the show last night.