Following Mick’s heart-valve surgery, the Rolling Stones kick off a U.S. tour in Chicago | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Following Mick’s heart-valve surgery, the Rolling Stones kick off a U.S. tour in Chicago 

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click to enlarge Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones

Rashid Akrim / NRK P3

I was at a wedding last week when a rowdy, intoxicated record collector cornered me and exclaimed, “The Rolling Stones! Name another band that's been going as long!” Usually I don't play these sorts of games, especially at weddings, but this time I had to admit he’d stumped me—I don’t count reunion tours with only one or two original members (see: the Who). The only possible contender I could think of was ZZ Top, who still have all three founding members, but they started a full seven years after the Rolling Stones formed in 1962—so there’s no contest. The Stones’ touring machine remains so unstoppable that over the past decade they’ve played the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. And when Mick Jagger had a heart valve replaced in April, they promptly rescheduled their U.S. tour, which now kicks off with two dates in Chicago. I imagine Jagger will run around like crazy, while Keith Richards’s near-corpse is wheeled onstage and planted in front of the crowd, guitar soldered in hand. Then there’s guitarist Ronnie Wood, a touring member since 1975, an official partner since 1990, and another survivor of decadence—a professional horse breeder and amateur philanderer, he’s been in and out of rehab possibly even more times than Keef, and when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017, he refused chemo because he’d lose his dyed-jet-black-but-still-full head of hair. As for drummer Charlie Watts, well, what can I say? This great, straight-faced, no frills, time-keeping monkey man is the rhythmic soul of the machine. Granted, crucial members have passed or moved on (founder Brian Jones died in 1969, godly lead guitarist Mick Taylor lasted from ’69 till ’74, and original bassist Bill Wyman bowed out in ’93), and making albums hasn’t seemed as important to the band in recent years as hitting the road. But their most recent LP, 2016’s Blue and Lonesome, hit number four on the Billboard charts and made it to number one in the UK despite its obvious blues-covers-only shtick. So what do I know? I have to admit, I haven’t completely enjoyed a Stones album since 1981’s Tattoo You (an odds ’n’ sods collection of souped-up unreleased songs), but that’s OK—according to recent set lists, Tattoo You single “Start Me Up” is the newest tune the Stones are playing these days. The rest of the show leans heavily on their golden 70s period, though late-60s monster singles such as “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” and “Street Fighting Man” make the cut too. You can also anticipate a smattering of their nasty, not-suitable-for airplay rockers (“Bitch,” “Midnight Rambler”) and some bloated anthems (“It’s Only Rock ’n Roll”), as well as Keef singing on a couple of deep cuts. The Stones definitely have a catalog massive enough to mix it up—and given the huge amount they charge for concert tickets, they’ll surely pull out all the stops their aching bodies can handle. Seriously, Mick, take it easy—you just had heart surgery!   v

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