What we talk about when we talk about the Stones

So geriatric oldies act “The Rolling Stones” played here on Sunday. I’ve seen them before, most recently 30 years ago, and candidly it was already a bit hard to swallow 50+ Mick preening about when Clinton was president. At 80, it’s damn near a novelty act — and a gradually sadder and sadder one, given that at this point only Mick and Keith remain of the band that gave us the string of groundbreaking records in the late 60s and early 70s. Wyman has been retired since 1993. Charlie Watts has been dead for two years, which is hard to fathom.

Sure, they have Ron Wood as the “new guy” with half a century behind him, and that’s not NOTHING, but he’s also not on the good material. He joined because Mick Taylor had left, and his exit crippled the band creatively — at least, compared to what they accomplished with him. Taylor was in the band from Let It Bleed (1969) through I’s Only Rock And Roll (1974); that era includes Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St. The Stones songs you know are overwhelmingly from 1974 or earlier, with some exceptions, and a GREAT chunk of their best material happened with Taylor on 2nd guitar.

In keeping with that, of the 18 songs they played Sunday, 11 were from 1974 or earlier. The newer tracks include 2 each from 1978’s Some Girls (“Beast of Burden” and “Miss You”) and 1981’s Tattoo You (concert favorite “Start Me Up” — realistically speaking, their only true hit since 1974 — and “Little T&A”).

The Tattoo You tracks are, at this point, 43 years old; they were also the youngest songs played aside from the obligatory sampling of last year’s Hackney Diamonds. Even with the new tracks in the mix, the average song age Sunday is old enough to schedule a colonoscopy. If you drop the 3 youngsters as outliers, the average age shoots up to 53.

Anyway, he’s a review — and setlist — from the other night, written by my pal Andrew. He’s awesome. It’s a fun read, even allowing for my snark about these octogenarians and their nostalgia tour.

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