Rolling Stones defy weather, time in Heinz Field show
The Rolling Stones are so powerful they made the rain — and time — stop.
Saturday night at Heinz Field, septuagenarians Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts, with the youthful Ronnie Wood (only 68) showed their age only via the lines on their faces. Everything else sounded like it was from a band in its prime, and it can be argued that, indeed, the Stones still are in the sweet spot, at least musically, of their career.
With the first chords of the opening song “Jumping Jack Flash,” there was a sense this was going to be an extraordinary night, and not only because the steady rain that doused the venue for much of the evening finally abated.
Simply, the Stones were magnificent.
Yes, Mick's vocals occasionally are barked instead of sung. The breaks between songs seem to be a bit longer in order for the band to gather itself.
But everything else about the band defies the laws of time.
Richards and Woods have a chemistry that can only be developed over decades, the interplay of their guitars at times sublime (“Tumbling Dice”), at times scathing (“Start Me Up”), but always compelling. They were at their best on “Midnight Rambler,” which featured an extended guitar duel that payed homage to the Stones' blues roots.
Watts seemed to enjoy the spotlight more than usual, notably when he revealed a pair of black-and-gold striped socks to the crowd. His drumming was typically to the point and spare, although his syncopated work on “Miss You” was one of the evening's highlights.
The man is a marvel. At 71, he pranced, he danced, he gyrated across the stage with a grace and energy worthy of a “Dancing With the Stars” contestant. He cracked jokes — “It's the first time we've played Heinz Field, we were all brought up on those beans” — and paid homage to native son Andy Warhol, who designed the “Sticky Fingers” album cover. And while his vocal range isn't quite what it was at 25, or 45, there are few if any singers better at delivering a song. He hit all the high notes on “Moonlight Mile, was menacing on “Paint it Black,” and playful on “Honky Tonk Woman.” He let back-up singer Lisa Fischer have the spotlight on “Gimme Shelter” and she grabbed it with gusto, but Jagger reeled her back in by the end of the song.
It was his stage, his night, his show, and if there were any doubts about whether he could still be the best front man in the world, they were vanquished again and again and again on a most remarkable and memorable night at Heinz Field.