Thursday, July 2, 2015

Live review: The Rolling Stones, Raleigh (7/1/2015)

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 11:24 AM

The Rolling Stones w/ The Avett Brothers
Carter Finley Stadium, Raleigh
July 1, 2015

click to enlarge The Rolling Stones - PHOTO BY JEFF HAHNE
  • Photo by Jeff Hahne
  • The Rolling Stones

When the Rolling Stones closed their set in Raleigh last night, it was with a fireworks display. I have to admit, I grinned like an idiot.

They'd closed on "Satisfaction," the second song of their encore. Like all their songs that evening, it set much of the audience dancing and singing. Teenaged hippies in loose, unbuttoned shirts gyrated goofily in the aisles while people their parents' and grandparents' ages lit up - during this song in particular the smell of pot smoke was overpowering. Onstage, Keith Richards smiled and chugged through the famous riff. He flubbed it plenty, but he didn't seem concerned.

Fuck it, he seemed to be thinking. We're the Rolling Stones.

click to enlarge The Avett Brothers - PHOTO BY JEFF HAHNE
  • Photo by Jeff Hahne
  • The Avett Brothers

The show had started close to four hours earlier, with the Avett Brothers' 8 p.m. set. It was obviously a big moment for the Concord outfit - hey, not everyone gets to open for the Stones - and they behaved accordingly. There were extended guitar solos and there was even some light stage choreography; at one point, bassist Bob Crawford slid on his knees. It was all fine and good and they played with plenty of spirit, but the trickiness of their set was that their newer, full-band arena rock approach seemed too similar to the Stones, at least compared to their initial sound. The band the Avetts were, pre-2009, was a sometimes rowdy, sometimes tender offshoot of North Carolina traditional music. That flavor's buried now, as the Avetts have spent the last few years perfecting their arena rock chops. They weren't in the Stones' shadow early in their career, but it seems they've wandered into it.

click to enlarge The Rolling Stones - PHOTO BY JEFF HAHNE
  • Photo by Jeff Hahne
  • The Rolling Stones

And then there's the Rolling Stones, who opened with "Jumpin Jack Flash" and p
click to enlarge The Rolling Stones - PHOTO BY JEFF HAHNE
  • Photo by Jeff Hahne
  • The Rolling Stones
layed mostly classics throughout their set. In contrast to the Avett Brothers, the Stones weren't tight at all, though their riffy Brit-blues sounded just fine with all the evening's raw notes and missed cues - in fact, there was so much personality to Richards' imperfect playing that it would have been a weaker show without it. Mick Jagger, for his part, remains an incredible frontman, strutting, gyrating, and howling like a man a third his age - just don't ask him to talk between songs, as his stage banter seemed more like something out of This is Spinal Tap than real life.

The outfits, too, were fantastic - particularly Ronnie Wood's amazing unicorn shirt and Jagger's red cape during "Sympathy for the Devil." Wood and Richards both wore the most amazing shoes - Wood's were shiny red high tops of some kind (if you got a better look than me, please drop a comment) and Richards' were these blue-green iridescent Nikes. Jagger, for his part, was constantly losing and gaining articles of clothing.

The trickiness, though, is talking about the songs. Some, like "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Gimme Shelter," were raw, righteous, and loaded with tense emotion. In "Gimme Shelter," though, it wasn't Jagger who carried the song but backup singer Lisa Fischer - no surprise to fans familiar with their duets. Fischer moved with poise, purpose and dignity on the extra-long catwalk, a perfect counterpoint to Jagger's wild sca
click to enlarge The Rolling Stones - PHOTO BY JEFF HAHNE
  • Photo by Jeff Hahne
  • The Rolling Stones

During some songs, though, it was hard to keep focused. While they played "Brown Sugar," for example, my mind wandered - I couldn't help it. The song, the vibe, and everything going on onstage simply seemed too familiar to have any weight. The song may ride one of Richards' many immortal riffs, but after about six or seven minutes of it I got fairly bored.

What dawned on me, though, is that the Stones couldn't possibly be to blame for that. Seeing them play live was the musical equivalent of hearing Mel Brooks tell a joke. On the surface, the performance seemed riddled with arena-rock clichés - until I realized the things the Stones do only became clichés because of how influential a band they are.

I can't blame this band for their imitators, and they do put on one hell of a show - even if the experience is as predictable as predictable gets.

click to enlarge img_6346.jpg
The Rolling Stones Setlist
Jumpin' Jack Flash
It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)
Let's Spend the Night Together
Tumbling Dice
Out of Control
Moonlight Mile
Shine a Light
Honky Tonk Women
Before They Make Me Run
Midnight Rambler
Miss You
Gimme Shelter
Start Me Up
Sympathy for the Devil
Brown Sugar

You Can't Always Get What You Want
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction 

click to enlarge The Avett Brothers - JEFF HAHNE
  • Jeff Hahne
  • The Avett Brothers
The Avett Brothers setlist
Down with the Shine
Laundry Room
Morning Song
Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
Murder in the City
Slight Figure of Speech
Kick Drum Heart
I and Love and You 

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