Click HERE for the official Stones Tour Page.
How could I not go to this concert? Like a big part of the 60,000+ crowd at Owen Stadium on this cool, breezy October night, I grew up with the Stones. In the fall of 1963, the British invasion of rock 'n' roll began with the Beatles, but quickly branched off into many different places. The British invasion ranged from Herman's Hermits to the Rolling Stones, with the Beatles moving along that spectrum with time, perhaps beginning close to Herman's Hermits but ending much closer to the Rolling Stones. I probably am one of a few who liked both the Beatles and the Stones, but in the beer bars of Madison, Wisconsin (where I went to undergraduate college), the Stones reigned supreme. "Satisfaction" was a riveting song that seemed to speak profoundly to my generation, with our youthful disaffection. Its lyrics sank into our heads and formed a sort of theme song of a generation. The Stones hit a quite different part of the 60s psyche than the Beatles did (at least at the first).
I'm now an acknowledged fan of the blues, and realize that the Stones themselves drew inspiration from the blues, like so many of the great British musicians (like Eric Clapton, who openly acknowledges his debt to the blues). I have discovered that a good part of the rock music that I loved so much came from that bluesy core. But the Stones used the blues primarily as a point of departure and went down a very 1960s path from there, a story involving drug abuse, disaffection, and whatnot. They were the "outlaws" of 1960s rock and appealed to us closet rebels who didn't follow down that road but somehow understood. Unlike so many rock heroes, they managed to survive and even to thrive.
So how was I to miss this concert? Just being in the same stadium with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards was a big kick. It was a dream from my college days to hear them and see them in the same space ... I never imagined it would turn out that I'd be at a Stones Concert. Those things happened in LA, New York, London ... big cities with big-time moguls ready to make big events happen. The Rolling Stones in Norman, Oklahoma? You've got to be kidding! So what if they're older than I am and probably show their age at least as much as I do? This was a must!!
The opener for the Stones was Sheryl Crow. I find it hard to imagine what it might be like to open for the Stones. She and her group have had hits of their own, and I understand that she's been working hard on the road. A very classy act and damned fine musicians in their own right. They did several numbers and I found myself wondering why I didn't have an album by her. I started out not paying much attention and got taken with her guitarist (whose name I didn't get), who did some outstanding riffs and generally made me wish he had more solo time. Sheryl did a harp solo on a bluesy song, the title of which I didn't get .. and finished with a great performance on "I Shall Believe" ... the last song on her Tuesday Night Music Club album. I also liked the job they did with "No One Said It Would be Easy" and "All I Wanna Do." Turns out my wife either had that album already, or went out and bought it the next day ... I like it and will probably buy more CDs from Sheryl Crow in the future.
About the stage and the sound: I found the set impressive but perhaps not phenomenally so. From where I was sitting, high in the nosebleed section of Owen Stadium on the pressbox side, I could just barely see part of the big-screen TV ... that part was lost on me. The lights and the special effects (including various pyrotechnics and a shower of confetti) were fine, but nothing phenomenal. That suited me just fine. The Rolling Stones were the highlight, not the stage. The sound was certainly loud, but the acoustics of the system and Owen Stadium were not exactly philharmonic quality. That was disappointing, but this concert was not about great sound for me. It just wasn't that important.
To some extent, even the musical performance by the Rolling Stones was not all that important. This concert was about BEING THERE! I have no way of knowing if this performance was all that stunning on that particular scale. I just know I was glad to be a part of it. The crowd was fun, too. A sort of geriatric flavor pervailed ... lots of folks like Vickie and me, who were connecting with the songs that filled our youths and have stayed with us like old friends. And some younger folks who either were dragged along or have become Stones fans, too.
The Stones kicked it off with "Satisfaction" ... PERFECT! Click HERE for the setlist. Even the Norman Transcript Reviewer Rob Collins was pleased with the show. As sets go, it was a little thin. I sure would have liked to hear "Ruby Tuesday" and "Under My Thumb" ... alas, we can't always get what we want ...
It was clear that with the exception of "Out of Control," the crowd liked best the old songs they knew. The songs from the Bridges to Babylon album garnered much less crowd reaction, as is typical of new songs from long-standing groups (The same thing happened at the Dallas performance by Pink Floyd that Vickie and I went to when Division Bell was new a couple of years ago.). The performance of "Out of Control" was terrific and we have bought Bridges to Babylon and like it a lot! The two songs by Keith Richards were not particularly outstanding musically, but I really enjoyed having him featured ... even if he played guitar badly (of course, he didn't play badly!!) and couldn't sing a note! At the risk of being repetitious, this concert was not focused on great performances for me.
Personally, what I like about live performances is the extended versions of the old songs. For decades, radio dictated that singles should be no more than 2 minutes long. As usual, the media underestimated the attention span of the public, as the FM explosion of the 1960s proved, with extended versions of "Ina Gadda Da Vida" and "Light My Fire." Having extended versions of the classic Stones numbers while Mick and company roamed the stage playing to the crowd was a real treat. We spent about 1/3 of the time on our feet, even way up in the nosebleed section. I would guess that down lower the crowd was on their feet the whole time. I sang myself hoarse, clapped until my hands were numb, and joined the crowd in begging for the encore we all knew would come.
They kept the lights off in the stadium after the encore and put on a brief pyrotechnic finale, presumably so the Rolling Stones could run to their limos and get out of there before the crowd left and the traffic jammed up. From where we sat, I could see them leaving. I understand this but, for once, I guess I didn't resent it much ... the Rolling Stones gave me a real treat and they deserved to get out of there and get ready for their next road date.
I was happy to read in the paper that the Stones were pleased with the crowd and the experience in Norman. Hopefully, enough money was made that the future looks good for big-time acts in Norman or Oklahoma City in the future ... I don't mind going to Dallas, but it's great to have experiences like this exciting concert in Norman. Rumor has it that Pink Floyd will come!! Thank you, Rolling Stones, for a great concert, decades of terrific music, and for leading the way to a chance for quality acts coming to Norman.