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'This could be the last time'

| Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

NEW YORK CITY

“This will be our 51st, 52nd and 53rd times seeing the Rolling Stones live,” said the woman sitting next to us in Madison Square Garden at the start of the 12-12-12 benefit concert for people whose homes and businesses were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

“My husband and I flew up from Midland, Texas,” she explained. “There's not much going on in Midland. We have tickets for the Stones on Thursday and Saturday.”

Compared to 53 times, we're rank amateurs. It's our 19th, 20th and 21st times at a Stones concert.

The 12-12-12 concert, featuring Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, The Who, Eric Clapton, Kanye West, Alicia Keys and the Rolling Stones, raised about $50 million — $30 million more than the federal government has delivered to date in Hurricane Sandy disaster loans.

“The concert was marred by reports that thousands of tickets were resold for a profit,” reported The New York Times, with the money going to “professional ticket brokers and individuals rather than to the charity.”

At the ticket office in our hotel, the Marriott Marquis at Times Square, a sales associate told us that the highest resale profit they handled was a $2,500 face-value ticket that sold for $49,500 on the day of the sold-out concert.

The two Stones concerts at the Prudential Center in Newark were the band's final stops on a five-show 50th anniversary concert tour that started with two shows in London in November and opened in the United States with a Dec. 8 concert in Brooklyn.

It wasn't the first time the Stones were in Newark. They played at Symphony Hall in 1965. Tickets were $3 and $4.50.

Now 47 years later, the historic Symphony Hall, all shined up again, has been saved several times from the wrecking ball. And Mick Jagger, in the Stones' grand finale in Newark, was an “inexhaustible marvel,” stated Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Dan DeLuca.

The Rolling Stones “showed they still got it,” wrote Live Review. “Every young band today should take note — this is how it's done.”

The second song on the last night of the Stones' tour was “The Last Time.” As Jagger sang the words that many in the audience had heard him sing a hundred times — “This could be the last time; I don't know” — they took on a special meaning this night.

“Some of you have got your grandchildren watching,” said Jagger, referring to the pay-per-view crowd at home (along with our son, Jim, and his wife, Lisa, our grandkids were with us: Sarah, 17, and Grace, 10, smart kids who know the words to “Gimme Shelter”).

“The Mayans can be completely right and it will be all right as I have seen the Rolling Stones, the greatest rock band ever,” wrote Steve Lewis at blackbookmag.com after the concert. “I can go quietly into the night, as this night I got what I want and what I need — absolutely religious.”

Continued Lewis: “There was a seriousness about the concert, as if this would be the end of the run. Mick ran around a lot less than back in the day. Shoot, me and almost the entire crowd runs around a lot less. It was surreal seeing Mick doing it well at 69. The anthems had an almost religious feeling, providing a calm reflection of the thread that was fraying.”

Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur. His email: rrreiland@aol.com

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