Sunday, October 15, 2006

The World's Oldest Rock Band

Last week, my wife Peggy, business partner Mickey Kupchyk, his wife Sharon, and I went to see the Rolling Stones. Yes, the Rolling Stones came to Regina. In case you're not familiar with where I live, it's a city of under 200,000 in a province with a population under 1 million. (Also, as Mick Jagger himself stated near the beginning of the concert, Regina is a city that rhymes with fun.) So, how did a venue that small rate the Stones? Well, it turns out the promoter decided to hit a number of smaller sites on this tour, including Montana, which is similar in population. However, the response was anything but small; the concert sold out all 45,000 seats (it's in our CFL football stadium) in 17 minutes! So, they added a second show, the only city on the tour to have one, and it sold out in an hour. As a result, Regina outsold New York City for Stones tickets.

By sheer dumb luck, we managed to score second row, center-stage tickets for less than a third of the going price. We arrived at the stadium just as the warm-up band started, and discovered that the line to get in was at least half a kilometer long. Forty-five minutes later, we found our seats and laughingly figured they were almost too close to the stage: since it was about six feet high, we'd have to stand to see the whole stage. No biggie, of course, since I figured we wouldn't be sitting during the concert any way.

While we waited for the concert to start, we overheard the conversations of Rolling Stones nerds. (Until that night, I couldn't imagine putting "Rolling Stones" and "nerds" in the same sentence). One guy said this was his 24th concert on this tour, and 119th altogether. The couple beside him were from Norway, and they've seen the Stones hundreds of times in at least 30 countries. Someone claimed the Stones were his whole live, much more important to him that his family and friends. And here we were, Stones virgins!

Then the lights went down and out they came. Wow, this close up, you can really see the wrinkles! They started with Jumping Jack Flash, one of my favorites, and it just got better from there. In addition to the four usual members (Mick, Keith, Ron, and Charlie, if I can be so presumptuous to use their first names), they had a horn section for some songs, a great bassist (replacing Bill Wyman, who retired several years ago), keyboardist, another guitarist, and several singers.

The concert was amazing. They played all my favorites, including Honky Tonk Women and Brown Sugar, and Peggy's favorite, You Can't Always Get What You Want. Mick has an incredible amount of energy, bouncing and running all over the stage, which is doubly amazing considering he's 63. Keith looked as zoned-out at times as I expected, and often had his trademark cigarette hanging from his lips. At one point, the center of the stage, which was situated in the south end zone of the stadium, broken away and moved 55 yards to the middle of the field. Of course, that meant we had pretty much no view of them for a couple of songs, but those people in the north end zone sure appreciated it.

After more than two hours, they finally left the stage amidst shooting flames and a lot of fireworks. It was easily the best concert I've been to, and I've been to a lot. If you ever get a chance to see the Stones live, don't pass it up!


Eric Selje said...

Hi Doug,
Fun post! We saw them last year in Milwaukee. What I couldn't believe was how short and skinny they all were! But they sure do rock.


Anonymous said...

Hi Doug,

I saw the Stones in 1991-92, at the old Wembley Stadium in London, England. What a fantastic concert it was too, especially for someone like me from Brandon, Manitoba!