TAMPA – On Friday night, roughly halfway through the Rolling Stones’ energetic concert at Raymond James Stadium, Mick Jagger spoke about the Tampa Bay area’s historic connection to the band: The Origin Story of (I can’t get no) Satisfaction.
In 1965, the Stones gave a concert in Clearwater. “We played four songs and then we got kicked off the stage,” Jagger said. All fans know the rest of the story – they returned to the Fort Harrison Hotel and Satisfaction was born.
“Now the hotel is owned by the Church of Scientology,” Jagger said. “We have heard that they are to ritually cleanse the site of our pernicious influence.”
The roaring crowd seemed happy to regain their influence, dancing and singing and ignoring a few drops of rain on a cool and windy night. The Tampa date, finally played after the band’s No Filter tour was postponed over a year ago at the start of the pandemic, was a rock’n’roll celebration of life tinged with a sense of loss.
The show opened with an empty stage, a powerful drumbeat recorded and, on the tall video towers, images of Charlie Watts. The original of the group and, for almost 60 years, sole drummer, Watts passed away in August at the age of 80. (The evening’s fashion item among the audience: Charlie Watts Memorial T-shirts.)
Then the fireworks went off and the Stones charged Street fighter, the first song in a two-hour, 19-song non-stop set.
Yes, the main members of the group are 70 years old. Yes, we thought rock’n’roll was a game for young people. Turns out it can keep you young.
Ron Wood hasn’t changed much, still a mischievous stage presence and lightning-fast guitarist, though his cheekbones are now so deeply etched that an acorn could be hidden in them.
Keith Richards has long been the boldest member of the crew, with a cigarette hanging from his pirate sneer and a legendary ability to party. He’s changed: With a beaming smile, a hot pink knit cap and glow-in-the-dark striped sneakers, he looks downright cuddly.
Jagger still moves like Jagger: the hip shake, the shoulder shimmy, the run on the track in front of the stage. Generations of rock singers have emulated these movements, but Mick is the original and still fascinating article.
The set list included almost all of the biggest hits, but when you’ve had as many bigger hits as the Stones, why not? The first half of the concert featured many chants: Come down from my cloud, Tumble dice, start Me Up and a glorious version of Honky Tonk Women which could possibly be heard in space.
There were a handful of less familiar songs, like Sad sad sad, from the 1989 Steel Wheels album. At each stop on the tour, ticket holders vote for a deep cut of Stones to perform. Tampa chose Out of sight, from 1978 Certain girls album, an ironic country song embellished with Wood’s steel guitar.
The only new song the band performed was the weird and tinged with reggae Living in a ghost town, which Jagger introduced as “our lockdown song”.
Jagger had his usual two-song break in the middle of the show, when Richards picked up the mic in a good voice to sing along Link and Happy. He also thanked the audience wholeheartedly and expressed his joy to be back on the road, “to do what we do”. With a benevolent smile and a wave of his hand, he said, “God rains on you all. Be blessed.”
Jagger, Richards and Wood are the main members, but there were 11 artists on stage, each an ace. Jagger pointed out that keyboardist and music director Chuck Leavell first performed with the Stones 40 years ago this week; Leavell demonstrated his talents with a catchy gospel piano solo at the end of You can’t always get what you want.
The new member, who dons Charlie Watts’ insanely cool shoes, isn’t exactly new. Veteran drummer Steve Jordan had Watts’ blessing to replace him on the tour, and he’s been performing with Richards on solo projects since the 1980s, so he slipped out pretty much without a problem.
The second half of the show started with I miss you, more heartbreaking than ever, then transformed into an express train: Midnight walkr, Paint it black, Sympathy for the devil and Jumpin ‘Jack Flash.
The encore gave backing vocalist Sasha Allen a spotlight on Give me shelter, and she delivered with a lamenting solo and fiery duet with Jagger that ended with a hand-in-hand exit from the track.
And at the end, of course, back to the touchstone: Satisfaction. We have some.