Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Review: The Rolling Stones 'give it their all'

"It's good to be here, Milwaukee. In fact, it's just good to be anywhere."--Keith Richards, Marcus Amiptheatre, 6/23/15.

Ever the wry, old pirate, Keith spoke those words before his traditional two-song "Keith Set" (Keith on lead vocals) halfway into Tuesday nights' Rolling Stones show at the Marcus. Go ahead, make your Gold-Bond Medicated Powder/Ben Gay jokes now and heap a dollop of ticket-price griping on top. Say what you will about their age (Mick did become a great-grandfather last year) this is a band that still puts on a formidable live show, full of danger and surprise.

After the somewhat anemic opener "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (not even the Get Yer Ya Ya's Out's version can match the taut intensity of the original studio recording) they steadied themselves and worked into a nice little frenzy. A mini set of 'Sticky Fingers' tunes was a highlight. With only 2012's "Doom & Gloom" representing this century, they focused on the 'Golden Era' Stones, which isn't such a bad idea, though something from 'Voodoo Lounge' or "Bridges to Babylon" would've been nice, those 90's records have aged pretty well; it's quite a gap from 1981 to 2012.

Just as Bruce Springsteen suffered a great loss in Clarence Clemons, who was sorely missed on his last tour, the notable absence in the Stones set Tuesday was sax player Bobby Keys, who passed away late last year. Like Clarence, Bobby was as outsized a personality, as he was a great player.

The brilliance of choosing opener Buddy Guy paid dividends when they brought him out for Muddy Waters' classic "Champagne & Reefer." All due respect to Mrs. Wood and Richards, Buddy played circles around them and showed why he's still at the top of his game at the spry age of 78.

Lest I throw Ronnie, Mick & Keith under the bus, they all showed amazing range beyond their usual roles. Ronnie played some mean pedal steel, Mick played some great guitar and killer harmonica and Keith shone in his vocal turn and still slays the Tele like no one else. The mix I heard featured both guitarists prominently, (occasional) warts and all. The warts were few but enough to know that you were hearing what they were actually playing.

Ever the consummate showman, Mick played the audience like Nero's fiddle. Mentions made: Chicago (groans/boos), Bears/Packers, Cheeseheads, Sausage races, their first show at The Milwaukee Theatre in 1964. He even sang a snippet from Gene Sutton's staple, "What Made Milwaukee Famous."

A nice touch was the inclusion of the UWM Chorale for encore song "You Can't Always Get What You Want" which no doubt made their 'bucket list': "Sing with the Rolling Stones." So, if this does end up being the 'Last Stones Tour' (Part 5) Milwaukee got a pretty special night and saw the band giving their all.

Fun little scene witnessed: seeing the band in black Mercedes limos being escorted out of the Summerfest grounds by a couple Milwaukee cops, on Harleys, natch.

Director of Digital | Radio Milwaukee