Stones photo credit: RKH Images
As time goes by, music tags right along. It’s only been two years since I traveled to Chicago to see the Rolling Stones for the first time, but since then I’ve gravitated to such a different place in my life. All the things I was once unsure of have either panned out for the good or just don’t matter much anymore. What seems silly to me now seemed terribly serious back then, and it’s no wonder music comes to our minds when we look back on how we made it through even the hardest of times.
When I first heard the Stones play “Can’t Always Get What You Want” in Chicago, sadly, all I remember is feeling an overwhelming drag of emptiness; frustrated about so many things. But seeing the tune performed last week at TCF Bank Stadium, did nothing of the sort. Instead, I was consumed with thankfulness and joy for just where I am in my life. I know I’ve said many times before that there’s nothing better than seeing your favorite band live for the first time, but as I attend more and more concerts, I’m learning there’s something much deeper to be said about seeing a band you love for a second time; a third, or even a fourth time. Even though I loved my Stones experience in the Windy City, seeing these guys play on my home ground, in the stadium I represented for four years as a Gopher no less, was particularly special. Plus my experience was way more fun because I spent all night rockin’ alongside my KQRS band of the coolest co-workers and truly amazing listeners.
KQ really has the most kickass listeners in the world. I thank everyone for coming out to play with us in the rain during Zepp’s live broadcast at Alpha Delta Phi. It was a blast dancing around, feasting on Famous Daves, dunking bags aimed at a cut out of Mick Jagger’s mouth that my boss Cassie crafted together, and getting absolutely soaked in our bright yellow, impossible to miss, KQ ponchos. I want to give a huge shout-out to listeners Mike and Angela from Vegas, MNDot Mike, grand prize winner Lori from the “Know Your Stones” Game Show that morning on the KQ Morning Show, our photographer friends Kyle and Tracy and all the other familiar AND new faces that stopped by our pre-party. You guys rock!
Not only were the Rolling Stones one of the first bands to show me how it feels to really groove, they were also around when everything was extremely hard and strange in my life. I remember when I was 16 years old, raking the leaves listening to a Rolling Stones CD my first boyfriend gifted me for Christmas the year before. When “Angie” spun on, I started singing and crying hysterically in my yard like a freak. It was always a show when I listened/performed the songs I was into, but this time my intensity was directed some place else. Meth use had begun to desecrate my cousin Angie’s life. Though the lyrics didn’t relate to her too much, just hearing Mick sing her name in that sorrowful tone made me weep. That, along with just discovering that my father’s substance abuse issues had been present for the majority of my childhood, had me trapped in a pretty fucked up place. It’s really crazy — one day you have people in your life and the next day you don’t. Even though they can sometimes break my heart, songs like “Angie” continue to help me understand that loss is inevitable — something in life we all must accept and learn how to handle.
Listening to the Stones on my portable CD player each day I was going through this hell helped me lessen the severity of troubles and conjure up the hope that things will eventually work out. Seeing them play at the Bank had me remembering those dark times, but instead of feeling sad and upset, I was inspired to stay carefree in all aspects of my life. I head-banged my heart out and belted the lyrics to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” like I never had before, embracing the fact that everything is indeed, ‘alllllllright now.’
One thing is for certain: The Rolling Stones rock hard. In fact, they rock harder than most young bands I’ve seen perform today. Their energy is impeccable; almost unbelievable, and the thought that they could be robots actually crossed my mind once or twice. As soon as the Stones stormed the stage during the “Start Me Up,” I turned to a young girl standing next to me who was seeing them for the first time with her family. She had the biggest, glowing smile plastered on her face, it made me so happy! We both dropped our jaws in amazement as we watched Mick strut all over the stage. “He looks like he’s having so much fun,” she said.
My favorite thing about the Stones is that their songs have proven their authenticity time and time again, simply by seeping themselves into each and every generation. More incredible yet, they can still put on one helluva show — some would say better than they did in their prime. I am always fascinated with the drummer when I see a band live, usually because of their intense body movements and high-powered hair-swinging, but birthday boy Charlie Watts had me mystified instead with his simplistic techniques and consistent calmness. He sported this hilarious turtle face the entire show. I joked to my friend Christina that he was probably trying to keep his dentures from falling out, but she said he probably holding in his bawls. All jokes aside, I love that man, and I’m so grateful he’s stayed true to his style all these years.
My favorite song of the night was “Midnight Rambler,” a straight up jam session that seemed like a 19-minute time warp. The performance had me shouting out crazy things like “sweet jesus” and “god damn child!” A song I was really sad they didn’t play however, was “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin.” I think that would have knocked me straight out!
My biggest personal fault with The Stones is remembering their lyrics. I know the groove but not every word to every song. I realized I sounded like a dink singing the wrong words along in the crowd, so I held back a little at this show. But other drunkies in the audience did not. I honestly felt at times like I was back at a Gopher Football game in college. I remember seeing one too many big armed, retired frat boys sucking down Grain Belt tallboys and screaming out at the keyboardist, calling him Kenny Rogers and saying ridiculous, slightly funny things like: Oh my god I LOVE “The Gambler!”
Keith Richards definitely had his moments during the high energy set. Seeing him play “Honky Tonk” was exiting and fulfilling. He was so smiley! When it was his moment to shine, everybody shut up and stared in awe. I thought it was funny that he and Ronnie Wood were chain smoking the entire show. Not to condone the habit, but I was pretty impressed how well they were playing the guitar with a ciggy in-between their fingers.
Towards the end of the show during “Satisfaction,” I finally took off my Stones/Gopher hat I bought for $40 big ones and let my hair loose. There are only so many barriers I can handle for so long, and for me, there is absolutely nothing better than going crazy to the songs I know and I love. My long blonde hair is my instrument, man.
Each one of the Stones seem very deep; aware of the history they’ve created and are still forwarding today. Their music taught me how music can heal, reveal and above everything else, make us move like we’ve never moved before. Just like when you grow to love something, it stays with you — music has a way about it that gives us a sense of security; something that will never leave us.