World’s Greatest Rock Band Stays the Same

Rolling Stone play “Sympathy for the Devil”
by Zoe Sakas

In most circumstances, having a poster of four seventy-year-old men on my wall as a freshman in college would be pretty strange. However, when those old, wrinkly men include the legendary Mick Jagger, I like to think that it is mildly acceptable.

On December 8, 2012, I was lucky enough to see one of the last five concerts of the Rolling Stones in celebration of their 50th anniversary at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. The show was phenomenal.
The stage was adapted to look like the symbolic red lips with a long red tongue extended into the audience. On stage, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood began the show with the 1967 hit “Get Off My Cloud” and the entire audience stood up immediately. Beers in hand, 19,000 Stones fans started singing and dancing to the myriad of classic songs that the Stones played that evening.

rolling-stones-in-concertIt’s been exactly fifty years since the band got together in London in 1962, but the excitement of their fans has not dropped in the slightest. For someone old enough to be my grandfather, Jagger still has the energy of the twenty-year-old he was when the band first got together. He didn’t stop dancing around the stage for the majority of the concert, and knew exactly what to do to keep the audience standing the entire time – impressive, considering the majority of the audience was comprised of middle aged men.

Through the years Mick Jagger has defined what it means to be the lead singer of a rock band, and he cemented himself as one of the greatest front men of all time in this last concert series after fifty years of preparation. Accompanying Jagger were Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood on guitar, and Charlie Watts on the drums.

With music slowly becoming an electronic art form, it’s not common for artists today to have a set group of such talented instrumentalists.The chemistry between the four musicians was very apparent on stage, and although Jagger was the leader of the show, it was easy to see that if one of them had gone missing, the show would not have gone on. They played off each other to a point where the songs they were performing almost seemed like personal conversations they were having amongst themselves.

Keith Richards is often referred to as the greatest guitarist of all time, and like Jagger, he proved this to be true as a nearly seventy-year-old man. Not only does he exemplify the stylistic features and techniques needed to play the guitar, but he also embodies what it means to be a rock guitarist. Accurately described by the Rolling Stones’ official website, “every single guitar player in every single rock n’ roll band in the world has been influenced by Keith Richards.” He plays with ease because he loves to, not for the fame or fortune. He may have used his career for drugs and sex back in the day, but as an old man, it’s quite obvious that that is no longer his main priority. He plays his guitar “to make other people feel happy. To make them feel good.”

Guitarist/painter Ronnie Wood and bluesy drummer Charlie Watts added two very unique personalities to the mix. Neither are as “hard core” rockers as Jagger and Richards, but nonetheless they are very talented. One of the most entertaining parts of the concert was watching Watts as he played the drums with perfect posture and a straight face, not moving once all night.

All four of these musicians have been making music history since their late twenties or before, and seeing them all together as they reach their retirement was beyond my imagination.

As a child, my dad used to play the Stones every time we got into the car. Because of him I have developed a deep respect for the Stones; but like many people of this generation, I only know them through songs I’ve heard from my parents’ CDs.

Seeing them perform in person was an unbelievable experience. They played two dozen classic hits, and yet after the concert was over I could think of another set of songs they could have played that everyone would have known all the words to.

Their impact on the music industry is not something that you can compare to any other rock n’ roll band. It is impossible to say what will happen fifty years from now when the Rolling Stones reach their 100th birthday, but after witnessing the effect this band has had, it is fair to assume that their music will not be lost.

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