Chalk it up to senility.
Or, at the very least, The Rolling Stones do not own an atlas. How else can you explain the fact that they booked a concert in Missoula, Montana last week?
Missoula, Montana. Were they confused? Was it a bad interaction of prescription drugs? Or was it a bad interaction of regular drugs?
Regardless, the biggest name in rock music found themselves on the outskirts of the middle of nowhere last Wednesday night. And I was there.
And The Rolling Stones put on a ROCK CONCERT. I cannot stress that enough. Their stage was six stories tall. It featured a section on an elevated track that transported the band to the middle of the arena, 10 feet above the crowd. There were fireworks that rivaled anything on the fourth of July. Their main video screen was easily 1200 square feet in size. There were fiery explosions generating heat that could be felt in the 27th row of the audience. And just for good measure, they inflated a giant set of lips (their logo) bigger than a school bus on stage. I could go on an on, but you get the idea.
I guess this is what you should expect for a $400 ticket. That’s right, $400 bucks for the 27th row, center-stage. I didn’t pay for it, nor did I perform any explicit favors on a roadie to sit this close. The ticket was a gift from my uncle, a huge Stones fan.
And I was thrilled to be there. Even on a smaller stage, the Rolling Stones play each concert as if it were their last, because, let’s face it, it could be. And watching Mick Jagger perform live is something I will always remember.
I think no other performer, with the possible exception of Elvis, better embodies the term “rock star” like Mick Jagger. He has the distinctive voice and personality. He has iconic moves on stage (the Rooster strut). He even has the quintessential rock star name: Mick Jagger. And it’s his real name too. In fact, I Googled celebrity pseudonyms just to be sure he wasn’t really born “Mickey Jaggerkowski” or something.
And even though he is 63 years old, he still summons the energy to be a rock star on stage. That is the standard he is held to, regardless of his age. And he delivered. I was pretty much in awe, watching him run up and down the stage for two hours. To put it in perspective, my dad is 56, and he needs a morning and afternoon nap just to have the energy to fish all day.
Some other thoughts on the concert:
- Aside from not having an atlas, The Rolling Stones must not have a calendar either. Not only was the concert in Missoula, but it was also held outdoors… in October. Thankfully, it worked out. It wasn’t too cold, and it only rained as people were leaving the arena. In fact, there was even a full moon. It could have been ugly though. I hope the Stones come back in a few years to play here again, but I have a sinking feeling that whoever booked this show probably wasn’t allowed back on the tour bus.
- I love living in Spokane, but I am also keenly aware that this part of the country is by no means considered a glamorous destination. And I always wonder what rock stars think about this region when their tour bus rolls in. They know it’s a limited engagement, but it’s still a new environment. Are they at all curious about the local history, climate, landmarks, economy… or anything? Do they even bother to look out the window to see what Spokane looks like as they drive through? Part of me honestly thinks that superstars might honestly care that little.
I liken it to learning the name of the temps or interns at the office. Is it really worth it to get to know them? In most cases, it’s not. Should you even bother learning their name? Or, do you just settle for a nod of general acknowledgement when you pass them in the hall?
Anyway, I always pay attention at the moment in the show where the rock star feels obligated to mention the name of the city he’s performing in. Will they pronounce it right? Will they drop a local reference or inside joke? I know this is a superficial measure, but this is how I gauge how detached the superstar actually is from his fans.
So how did Mick do? Well, he welcomed the crowd from Missoula enthusiastically. And he took it one step further by thanking everyone that drove over from Great Falls and Spokane. Unfortunately, Mick botched this part. He pronounced the last syllable of “Spokane” as “cane” instead of “can.” I can’t fault him too much; he just made the mistake of trying to read it phonetically. He made up for it though. He joked that he “Loves this region of the country, because he got up this morning, and walked out of his trailer and shot an elk.” This got huge laughs. Well played Mick, well played.
- As you might expect, the audience was packed with baby-boomers. But just because they are pushing 60 doesn’t mean they don’t like to party. I realized this when the older gentleman in the row in front of me lit up some weed. Even though it was a rock concert, it just seemed out of place. Seriously, this guy was probably an orthodontist. Nobody even raised an eyebrow though, as it was actually plausible that it was for medicinal use. Needless to say, it was a surreal experience.
- Finally, I wanted to embed a clip from the concert here, just to give you a taste of what the performance was like. Of course, I searched YouTube and found a thousand low-quality clips of people filming the stage with their camera-phone from the nosebleed section in a darkened arena. This clip is no different, but it at least shows the scope of the production and the elevated stage moving across the arena… enjoy.