By Ken Sharp
With the tragic and untimely passing of founding Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, often described as the engine of the band by none other than Keith Richards, there was much speculation whether the Stones would move forward on their “No Filter” tour. But whether it was the departures of members Brian Jones and Mick Taylor and decades later Bill Wyman, The Rolling Stones refuse to gather moss and forge defiantly on headed towards the future. With drummer Steve Jordan, longtime Stones musical ally/member of Keith Richard’s X-Pensive Winos, taking over Charlie’s seat, there’s been much talk and concern among devoted followers of the band whether this would impact the Stones trademark sound.
Attending the second of two shows at LA’s newly opened Sofi Stadium, the band’s 49th show in L.A., judging by the band’s powerful performance, I think it’s safe to say those doubts have been vanquished loudly.
Opening with the anthemic “Street Fighting Man,” the band’s signature front line for the past four decades, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, remain a marvel of potency aided and abetted by bassist Daryl Jones, keyboardists Chuck Leavell and Matt Clifford and backing vocalists Bernard Fowler and Sasha Allen. Early on in the set, the Exile on Main St. gem “All Down the Line” and Some Girls classic "Beast of Burden” both made their tour premieres at the show and sounded like they’d been permanent fixtures in the show.
At age 78, Mick Jagger is an ageless wonder, a master showman/shaman, notching miles on the stage, toying and seducing the audience and delivering vocally, unlike many of his musical peers whose ability has seriously diminished.
With songs like “Tumbling Dice,” “19th Nervous Breakdown.” “Midnight Rambler,” Honky Tonk Women” and “Miss You,” guitarists Richards and Wood act as a secret six-string cabal, sharing jokes and smiles and gloriously weaving their angular parts seamlessly.
One of the show’s highlights came fairly early in the set with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” Jagger on Gibson acoustic guitar, the song built elegantly growing in gospel fervor, turning the enormous Sofi stadium into rock and roll church for the masses.
The fan vote for this show numbered four selections: “Worried About You,” “Fool to Cry,” “Wild Horses,” “Angie” — with “Wild Horses” the winner. Capturing the mournful mood of the original recording, the song was rendered beautifully infused with more of an electric charge — Richards’ 12-string acoustic was not located hence he played the song on electric guitar.
As Mick took a brief long deserved break, Richards stepped up to the mic to deliver ragged and raucous renditions of the Between the Buttons deep cut "Connection,” and his Some Girls‘ staple, “Before They Make Run.”
An indelible standout of the show was the Technicolor tribal rhythm delight of “Sympathy for the Devil,” both spooky and spectacular — when the band kicked into the climactic “pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name,” the stage volume kicked into overdrive which truly electrified the crowd.
Closing the main set with a rollicking “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the band returned for two encores. “Gimme Shelter” built in intensity, Stones backing vocalist Sasha Allen handling the original Merry Clayton vocal parts with verve and raw passion. Capping the two hour show was “Satisfaction,” Steve Jordan perfectly replicating Charlie Watt’s propulsive groove on the classic single. Unquestionably one of the greatest songs in rock history, Jagger, noticeably captured the vocal nuances of the 1965 single more so than on recent tours as audience and band locked in a blissful musical communion for the ages. What a show, what a band. Long may The Rolling Stones roll.
SoFi Stadium on Sunday, October 17, 2021 set list
Street Fighting Man
All Down the Line (tour debut; first time since 2016)
19th Nervous Breakdown
Beast of Burden
Wild Horses (by request)
You Can't Always Get What You Want
Living in a Ghost Town
Start Me Up
Honky Tonk Women (followed by band introductions)
Connection (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
Before They Make Me Run (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
Midnight Rambler (with “Come on in My Kitchen” snippet)
Paint It Black
Sympathy for the Devil
Jumpin' Jack Flash