“I’m impressed, but I’m not surprised because we of the Boomer age are not going down without a fight,” Belcher said.
If anyone expected a valedictory air to the Stones’ final “50 & Counting” Chicago performance, the Stones weren’t playing along. The show unfolded similarly to the previous two United Center shows, opening with the same quartet of songs — a punchy “Get Off of My Cloud,” a politely crunchy “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” a somewhat thudding “Paint It, Black” and the extended roaring takeoff of “Gimme Shelter” — before throwing in a trio of curveballs: the fan-requested “Sway,” with guitar Mick Taylor reprising his titanic guitar leads from this “Sticky Fingers” gem; the snarling “Let It Bleed” rocker “Live with Me” and the early ballad “As Tears Go By,” which had guest Taylor Swift duetting with Jagger without quite finding a way into the song. Where Marianne Faithful brought understated melancholy to the 1965 original, Swift offered happy-to-be-here belting that sounded especially high-pitched next to Jagger’s growl.
The rest of the concert followed the script of previous shows, with Taylor returning to set the house ablaze on the blues workout “Midnight Rambler” and Richards and Wood resembling wily old bluesmen as they stomped out an acoustic “You Got the Silver,” with Richards’ craggy voice sounding no worse for wear even as he’s starting to bear a strange resemblance to Yoda. (The set included five of the nine songs on “Let It Bleed.”)
Richards’ electric guitar was turned up loud and had the tone of a cat getting its tail caught in a gate. He provided vibe while Wood did more heavy lifting with his snaky leads, Watts smacked the snot out of his snare and bassist Darryl Jones provided fluidity beneath the sometimes messy rumble.
The band never gave any indication that this night was different from all other nights. Jagger offered: “I want to thank you for coming for so many years. We’ve been coming here since 1965.” But there were no more special guests or final farewells beyond the usual bowing and waving.
Turns out, although time waits for no one, what the Stones appeared to be providing for all that money wasn’t a last hurrah so much as a message to all of those similarly getting-on-in-years folks out in those expensive seats: It doesn’t have to end.
“They’re ageless,” a gleeful Belcher said toward the end of the show, “and for a short period of time they make us feel ageless too.”
firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter @MarkCaro
Rolling Stones set list Monday
1. Get Off of My Cloud
2. It’s Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)
3. Paint It, Black
4. Gimme Shelter
5. Sway (with Mick Taylor)
6. Live with Me
7. As Tears Go By (with Taylor Swift)
8. Emotional Rescue
9. Doom and Gloom
10. One More Shot
11. Honky Tonk Woman
12. You Got the Silver
13. Before They Make Me Run
14. Midnight Ramble (with Mick Taylor)
15. Miss You
16. Start Me Up
17. Tumbling Dice
18. Brown Sugar
19. Sympathy for the Devil
20. You Can’t Always Get What You Want (with Roosevelt University Conservatory Chorus)
21. Jumpin’ Jack Flash