NEWARK, N.J. — It’s impolite to point at people, unless your name is Mick Jagger and you’re busy fronting the Rolling Stones with Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts behind you.
And point he did at Thursday night’s Rolling Stones 50 and Counting concert at the Prudential Center here. He pointed at the cheap seats, he pointed at the people standing in the enormous tongue-shaped floor pit, he even pointed at guitarist John Mayer who made a special guest appearance, playing “Respectable.”
This was the fourth show on The Rolling Stones’ 50 and Counting Tour and the second US show of their short 2012 run celebrating 50 years of the Stones and their music, though there are rumors of a longer tour. Like the previous London and Brooklyn concerts, a feverish bunch of percussionists masked in the concert’s gorilla logo set the mood for the Stones to come on stage. By the time they arrived and started performing “Get Off My Cloud” the arena was already roaring. And the energy didn’t let up; the crowd sang along loudly on the choruses of “Honky Tonk Women” and even on the faintly disco “Miss You.”
The excitement peaked when the band brought out former bandmate Mick Taylor for a cascade of electric guitars during “Midnight Rambler.” Although the graying, heavyset Taylor may not look like a Rolling Stone anymore, he certainly sounds like one. He carved out wailing solos from the song with solid musical support from the other band members and bent sound with such technical precision that from above it looked like he was just tapping the instrument with his fingers.
Keeping the event in context, Jagger dedicated “Gimme Shelter” to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy and mentioned how he enjoyed playing at the 12-12-12 Hurricane Sandy Benefit Concert the night before. Slightly disappointing was the lack of other guest stars. For the past three shows, Jagger had performed twice with Mary J. Blige and once with Florence Welch. They even had Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck perform with them in London.
But for all their stiff knees, wrinkles and Jagger’s whining at Richards over his book, The Rolling Stones sound is what makes them timeless for even the few elementary school kids in the audience.
And sure, maybe they didn’t play the hottest version of “Sympathy for the Devil” Satan has ever heard and perhaps Jagger saves his best moves for the encores, but everyone on and off the stage was enjoying it, even those who paid $750 to get spat on in the front row.
Saturday’s concert, the last on this minitour, will also take place at the Newark Prudential Center and feature guest appearances from the Black Keys, Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen. It will be televised live on pay-per-view by Comcast for $39.95.
Dustin Wlodkowski is a sophomore journalism student at Emerson College. His passions are politics and music, particularly classic rock.
Here are the Stones and Mayer from Thursday's concert:
This program aired on December 14, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.