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The Rolling Stones: Dangerous and Vital as Ever at SoFi Stadium

The Rolling Stones: Dangerous and Vital as Ever at SoFi Stadium

It’s been a challenging month for elder statesmen holding on to the spotlight in the U.S. So, it’s refreshing to see that the Rolling Stones can still electrify stadiums with unmatched ferocity.

At SoFi Stadium on Wednesday, the Stones did what they’ve always done: they hit the stage in support of their latest rock and roll album, last year’s lively “Hackney Diamonds.” They could have easily turned this tour into a nostalgic trip for their fans, especially after the loss of their cherished drummer Charlie Watts in 2021.

However, in a country dominated by gerontocracy, the Stones opted out of sentimentality on Wednesday night. The band is performing at full throttle, offering startling and exhilarating moments onstage that make history, rather than merely paying homage to it.

Despite their decades of dark glamour and astonishing excess, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood still make their entrance to that famously humble announcement: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones.” This simple introduction has remained a sacred and reliable promise in rock ’n’ roll since the Johnson administration.

With the passing of Watts—known for his cool demeanor and steady, jazzy drumming style—it was reasonable to question the band’s future. Contrary to any such doubts, the Stones aren’t hanging up their instruments anytime soon.

From the initial riff of “Start Me Up” to the pulsating closer “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” the Stones performed like a well-maintained Aston Martin, reviving the dangerous allure of their catalog just as they did in 1964, and likely will continue to in 2064.

In a world that often feels bleak, it’s a blessing to witness the mastery and energy Jagger brings to the stage. Those iconic hip swings, his shirt fluttering in the breeze, and his flawless R&B delivery on “Beast of Burden” are proof of his evergreen charm. He may joke about their early gigs in San Bernardino being so long ago that it seems they could have emerged from the La Brea Tar Pits, but his spirited performance tells a different story.

Let’s not overlook Richards either. The notoriously unbreakable Stone was in peak form on Wednesday night, turning the constraints of age into an advantage.

SoFi Stadium is known for hosting the glitzy spectacles of modern pop, often relying on backing tracks for the desired sparkle. Yet, nothing in that venue matches the power of a live, ferociously loud riff from Richards.

Wood currently takes on most of the complex guitar work within the band, but Richards truly shines on tracks like “Midnight Rambler,” with Jagger’s howls about Robert Johnson’s hell hounds complementing his passionate play. The somber chord that introduces the verses of “Wild Horses” was rendered more poignant by his aged hands in 2024. When he sang, “Everyone is asking questions, yeah / I got one too… Is the future all in the past?” on “Tell Me Straight,” it felt like a defiant challenge to mortality.

The hits from their expansive catalog, such as “Paint It Black,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and “Tumbling Dice,” radiated a timeless power, ageless but still intensely alive. The band reveled in the crowd’s reaction to “Honky Tonk Women,” a song that continues to captivate audiences across three generations.

Even the tracks from “Hackney Diamonds” demonstrated the Stones’ relentless forward momentum. They wisely chose to collaborate with young producer Andrew Watt, known for his work with contemporary rock acts, for their first album of original material since 2005. Songs like “Angry” and “Mess It Up” were sharp and infused with the rebellious energy that defines this band.

Much credit goes to the versatile supporting musicians that the Stones have assembled. Drummer Steve Jordan paid homage to Watts with powerful precision, keyboardist Chuck Leavell delivered stunning piano solos, and Chanel Haynes added Tina Turner-esque vitality to the backing vocals. (Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter of the War and Treaty opened the show with stately Southern soul.)

While we may go to a Stones concert for the velvet jackets, silver jewelry, smirks, and collective moments typical of stadium rock, the band itself remains restless. No emotional tributes or walks down memory lane for them—only guitars and the devil, battling it out in the vibrant twilight years of what is likely the greatest rock band we will ever see.

Source: Los Angeles Times