The Rolling Stones will wrap their 2012-2013 50 & Counting Tour on Saturday (July 13th), at London's Hyde Park. Highlights on the tour included the two trek closing spots at Hyde Park -- marking the band's first appearance there since 1969, the Stones' first time as headliners at England's Glastonbury Festival, and their brief set at Madison Square Garden for the 12-12-12 benefit for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Apart from a trio of "impromptu" club dates -- two in Paris, one in L.A., the tour garnered far more press about the exorbitant ticket prices than the setlist. Although original bassist Bill Wyman appeared for a couple of numbers at the band's 2012 UK shows, he declined to travel to North America for such a limited amount of stage time. Former guitarist Mick Taylor frequently breathed new life into the Stones' live act by reprising some of his signature licks on such classics as "Midnight Rambler," "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," "Sway," and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," -- but by tour's end was usually allotted only two songs to play on each night -- three if there was no special guest.
- The tour was most notable for the amount of indoor venues, which except for the three open air British shows played to arenas seating around 15-to-20,000. For the first time in their career -- perhaps in response to the negative press regarding the ticket prices -- nearly every show featured a special guest. Although many of the cameos were newsworthy, die-hard fans complained that the guest stars were mainly a distraction from the main event -- even from the handful of guests who also came from the rock world.
- Over the course of the band's 2012-2013 50 & Counting dates, the Rolling Stones welcomed the following special guests: Mary J. Blige, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Florence Welch, Keith Urban, Gwen Stefani, Tom Waits, John Fogerty, Bonnie Raitt, Katy Perry, John Mayer, Dave Grohl, the Black Keys, Carrie Underwood, Taj Mahal, Sheryl Crow, Taylor Swift, Win Butler of Arcade Fire, Gary Clark Jr., Brad Paisley, and Aaron Neville.
- Mick Jagger admits that although the Stones played up their bad boy tendencies in the mid-'60s, he's still amazed at how quickly the establishment chose to embrace the band: "But, y'know, in a funny way, we didn't really have a (laughs) choice, y'know? 'Okay, I'm gonna be an anti-hero now -- now I'm not going to be!' I had no real idea that our kinda slight scruffiness was going to turn into this anti-heroic act. In some ways, we were swept along with the tide, but we helped ourselves propel ourselves along with it."
- Keith Richards revealed to us his standard for guitars these days -- for both his classic "Open G" as well as the normal, standard tuning: "For the five-string stuff, I use Fender Telecasters. But for the six-string, I've always been interested in trying different guitars that turn up to me. Some are given and some are found for me by Pierre (de Beauport), my guitar man. Pierre knows what interests me. So the Gibson (335), hell, the black Gibson I've been using a lot -- it's a lovely guitar. But I really like. . . y'know, sometimes you get a Gretsch, sometimes I get something that somebody's handmade themselves. I just love to experiment, really."
- Ron Wood told us that at this point, the Stones are sailing in uncharted waters: "We notice that we're cutting new ground, y'know, in that no bunch of guys have ever stuck together this long in the rock n' roll field."
- Mick Taylor shed some light on "Midnight Rambler," which proved to be his star moment of the 50 & Counting shows: "It's very different from the recorded version for Let It Bleed, and it was always a highlight of the show -- one of the highlights -- in the show in the '70s, during my tenure with the Stones. Because it's a very bluesy, sort of swampy, kind of blues jam between me and -- well now, between me and Ronnie and Keith. The song was written by Mick and Keith. And it give Mick the opportunity to play some blues harmonica, as well, which he's very good at."
- Charlie Watts admits that he's never even considered the Rolling Stones to be an institution: "I don't look at the Rolling Stones like that. Y'know, it just. . . they're a group of people that I know that become the Rolling Stones when they get together. Something happens around us when we play that is either magic, or (a) catastrophe -- whichever way you look at it. It always has done and I assume it always will."
JUST OUR OPINION
- Truth be told -- as die-hard Stones fans -- 50 & Counting was not their finest moment. Although Jagger was -- as always -- in peak form, the advancing years are definitely showing on Keith Richards with a laundry list of missed cues and flubbed chords. The Stones were always at their best when they were rough and ready and flying without a net -- but this time, it seemed like they could've used another eight weeks rehearsal.
- At the first Hyde Park gig last week, Richards actually opened the show playing the WRONG CHORDS to "Start Me Up." Just to put things into perspective -- the ONLY THING required of Keith Richards in this life is to play the chords to "Start Me Up" CORRECTLY. That's it, people.
- The rotating guest stars who shared zero chemistry with Mick Jagger was ridiculous -- even in a train wreck kind of way. It's too easy to poke fun of the Taylor Swift and Katy Perry performances, but even Springsteen and the other rock performers were absurd. Everybody comes on and tries to perform with the high-octane energy of a show-stopping encore -- and it's not. It's, like the fourth song of the night. It's more bad talent show TV than "Only Rock N' Roll." It might actually be the FURTHEST THING EVER from rock n' roll. It's a nervous outsider DESPERATELY TRYING to make some connection with Jagger, who's mind is only focused on professionally executing the performance and getting the guest off the stage. Jagger's recent team-up with Aaron Neville on "Under The Boardwalk" with Jagger dancing like a nervous hooker while reading a TelePrompter was soul-crushing to witness. Isn't Mick Jagger supposed to be the coolest guy on Earth???
- They bring Mick Taylor out for TWO SONGS like some damaged trained circus bear??? Horrible. What a stupid waste. We bet you our paychecks that MICK TAYLOR would be able to play the correct chords to "Start Me Up" EVERY NIGHT.
- Last fall, the Rolling Stones released their latest greatest hits set, titled, Grrr! The career-spanning collection is available in several different formats -- including a three-CD 50-track version and a four-CD Super-Deluxe version featuring 80 tracks.
- Among the highlights on the set are "Come On" -- the Stones' cover of the Chuck Berry rarity, which was their first single released in June 1963, "The Last Time," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Get Off Of My Cloud," "Jumping Jack Flash," "Honky Tonk Women," "Brown Sugar," "Tumbling Dice," "Miss You," and "Start Me Up," among many others.
- Grrr! features two new studio recordings -- "Gloom And Doom" and "One Last Shot."
CHECK IT OUT: The Rolling Stones -- with Mick Taylor -- on December 15th, 2012 performing "Midnight Rambler" in Newark:
Charlie Watts On The Core Of The Rolling Stones
Keith Richards On His Favorite Guitars
Mick Jagger On The Rolling Stones And The Establishment
Mick Taylor On 'Midnight Rambler'
Ron Wood On The Rolling Stones' Longevity