Wednesday, June 17, 2015


It's 2015 - the Rolling Stones announced a short 15-city summer tour that didn't include a show in Toronto. Since this may be their last tour - i know, i know, they've been saying that for years - but Mick and Keith are 71, so really, this could be their last - so I picked up a ticket for the Nashville show at LP Field. Because I was attending alone, I was able to score a leftover floor seat.

I'd forgotten just how big a Rolling Stones show is. The merch is BIGGER than anyone else's. A trailer pulls one merch outlet. And there were 6 that I saw.

The lighting from the field to the stage was up on lifts with 8 super troupers on each lift, each manned.

The runway from the stage was 100 feet long into the audience, with runway lights every 10 feet. The stage was 250 feet wide, with another 50 foot video screen on each side.

The number of people working - the stage, the security, the ushers, the merch, the beer tent, and the hundreds of backstage people who do things we don't know about - I could not begin to guess. It sure gives alot of people jobs. Oh, there were at least 25 fans in each line for merch, and the beer lines were triple that number.

The age group was over 40. Many couples. Probably one in five bought a $40 tshirt.  Hmmm.  That's about $750,000.  I wonder how close I am.

Tickets were $200 to $3,000.  So, averaging to $500 a ticket x 55,000 = probably a gross of $25,000,000.  The band probably takes 70%.

There was a time not too long ago when people made fun of the Stones - "they're old, why don't they give up?"  Uh, because they love to play. And we're still paying for tickets! Now, I am encouraged by their stamina during a 2 hour show, covering 20 classic songs.

Mick still trots, skips and runs down the runaway and he's in incredible shape for 71. It's obvious he takes care of himself. Keith, is a bit slower, and probably has never been to a gym, but he plays with passion. He's happy. He smiles. He enjoys it. Awesome to see someone that age enjoy playing. The opening chords of "Honky Tonk Women", I know, are his favourites to strum. Ronnie Wood - never seems to act older than 14 and that's just fine. Charlie Watts - the only Stone who doesn't wear snappy stage clothes - was happy, humble and steady.

During "Midnight Rambler", which I really dislike, Mick danced a serious ruckus dance and everyone around me couldn't believe his energy.

The horn section, the backup vocals by Lisa and Bernard (who have sung for years) and the local Belmont University Choir made this show - big. And memorable.

My favourite Stones song is "Doom and Gloom" that was released about five years ago. Still unknown to most people. Upon first listen, the lyrics sound negative and rebellious and ... well ... not Christian. But as a Christian I process the song differently - and to me, it's very reflective of our culture - especially on facebook - comments complaining about the state of our world, the changing laws, the distain for religion. I agree - "all i hear is doom and gloom".

Footnote: I've seen every Stones tour since 1981, except one. That was during my "I shouldn't be listening to secular music because it's all evil". Fortunately, I shook that off, reconciled myself to enjoying non-Christian musicians, even if their faith is different. Imagine - being able to appreciate someone's skill even though they don't believe what I believe. Shocking.

Jumpin' Jack Flash
It's Only Rock and Roll
You Got Me Rockin'
Tumblin' Dice
Doom and Gloom
Far Away Eyes
Wild Horses
Dead Flowers
Honky Tonk Women
(intros for each person on stage)
Before They Make Me Run
Midnight Rambler
Miss You
Gimme Shelter
Start me Up
Sympathy For The Devil
Brown Sugar
encores: You Can't Always Get What You Want
Intermission - after Brad Paisley

One of many merch booths. 

Brad Paisley sang Dead Flowers with Mick.

A full view of 55,000 people at LP Field.

An hour before showtime.

The big video screens are REALLY big.

I had floor seats - I feel bad for those with seats further away.

Lousy iphone camera. He's 100 feet away.
Same view as above.

Now that I'm a band manager, I take photos of  things most fans
don't care about. These are the spotlights in centre field. Each
light is manned.

The amps that power the relay towers.