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Topic: Takes a lickin', keeps on tickin' Return to archive
08-30-02 10:07 AM
CS Takes a lickin', keeps on tickin'

The Rolling Stones launch a world tour with a triple dip into their musical history

By Steve Morse, Globe Staff, 8/30/2002

t's only rock `n' rollbut the Queen must like it. How else to explain that the Rolling Stones will open their world tour in Boston next week with newly knighted singer, Sir Michael Philip Jagger?

He was knighted by the British monarchy this summer for ''services to pop music.'' And that prompts Stones sidekick Keith Richards (who was not knighted) to note as only he can: ''I'm surprised Mick took it. If Phil Collins is also a knight, what's the point of jumping into that pond?''

Replies Jagger: ''It's nice being given the compliment, though it's not something that one would spend time to get. You say, `Thank you very much and move on.' ''

Yes, the Stones are moving on. And this time, things are different, not just because of Jagger's royal new title, which has stunned some English critics who recall his aberrant past, but because the band is opening for the first time in Boston and are charting a much more ambitious path than on their last three, media-frenzied tours.

The new ''Licks'' tour - does the Queen know about this title? - finds the Stones digging into their archives to rehearse 130 songs (twice their norm), while boldly, and unprecedently, playing three very different venues in each major city. They'll start at the 18,000-seat FleetCenter on Tuesday, move up to the new, 60,000 -seat Gillette Stadium on Thursday, then slip into the tiny, 2,800-seat Orpheum Theatre the following Sunday.

''I'm calling it the `Underwear Tour' - small, medium, and large,'' says the irreverent Richards. ''But for the band, it makes it far more interesting. At last we have the sort of balanced tour that we've been aiming at for years, but for one reason or another - usually lawyers and the need to make more revenue - we couldn't do. It would always be stadiums, stadiums, stadiums, and just a couple of little places here and there. The repetition would become a grind.''

As Jagger says in a separate phone interview from Toronto: ''We thought, `How are you going to do a town like Boston differently?' ... So why not spend a week there and do three different kinds of shows? That way you can do a theater show, which can be full of music so you don't have to do a massive performance with lights and things - and where you can more or less do what you want and play songs you haven't done before. Some of the songs may be a little bit off, but you'll have a go at anything and take quite a few chances.

''Then an arena show would be a bit of both - a combination of well-known songs and not quite so well-known. And then when you get to the stadium, you do a full-blown, well-known set list, which is probably very suitable for a stadium where people probably don't want to hear mystery tunes. That's just my opinion. Maybe some will come looking for weird tunes, but it will be less of a chancey show, with more hits. Plus, you're in town for a full week and you get into the swing of the city.''

The arena dates will probably have a segment devoted to a particular Stones album from the past. At the FleetCenter, it will probably be ''Exile on Main Street,'' Jagger says; in other cities it might be ''Beggars Banquet'' or ''Some Girls.''

And there have been discussions regarding the arena and theater shows focusing on a ''soul night'' or a ''blues night'' just to ''give different flavors,'' says Richards.

''We've been researching some Otis Redding stuff and some O'Jays music,'' adds Richards. ''We also rehearsed some Wilson Pickett and some good reggae stuff. And on the country side, we're not bad. As for blues, we've always got that covered. In fact, a song we did is `You Got the Blues.' The arsenal is full.''

The Stones aren't going as far as the Grateful Dead, though, who used to do six-night runs at the FleetCenter and juggle the set lists so much that they might repeat only one song in the run.

''No, we're not going for that,'' says Richards. ''Bless their hearts, the Dead were the Dead. They were a unique example of things. But we ain't going that way. We're not meandering. We're going to be sharp, short, and to the point. None of those two-hour guitar solos.''

The exhaustive research the Stones did into their archives led to some revelations. Take the song, ''She Smiled Sweetly,'' from their ''Between the Buttons'' album in 1967. It was used not long ago on the soundtrack to the ''The Royal Tenenbaums,'' so the Stones figured they should relearn it.

''I had forgotten how hauntingly nice that is,'' Richards says of the tune. ''We did it in two takes and I played bass, organ, guitar, and piano on it. Charlie [Watts] played drums and Mick sang it. It was just the three of us. And suddenly that came back to me and I saw us in the studio.

''When you play a song you haven't played in 30 years, you remember where you were when you wrote it and what was going on and who you were with. And suddenly it comes back like a diary. Which is why I've never kept a diary. I just write songs. You remember the [woman] you were with and what you drank and what you were smoking and the atmosphere. You can smell it, and that's what was interesting to me.''

Jagger and Richards also found their memories were more reliable than expected. ''I don't listen to Rolling Stones records in my leisure time,'' says Jagger. ''But you've got to when you want to do a tune. And I can still sing all of the Rolling Stones tunes, at least the choruses. I know how they go. There are none of them that I don't recall.''

''What I found was that as long as you don't think, your fingers will remember a song,'' says guitarist Richards. ''It's amazing. We were all looking at each other and saying, `I don't believe we got through that.' We haven't played that in 30 years and then it was only for a brief few moments. It's a good exercise just to cut the brain out, because once I start to think about things, I screw up. As long as I trust my fingers, somehow they have more memory.''

The Stones will break with tradition by not releasing a new album for the start of this tour, though later this fall they will issue a double-CD, ''Forty Licks,'' combining archival tracks with four new songs recorded in Paris with producer Don Was in the spring. One of the new ones, ''Don't Stop,'' will make its way into the shows, Jagger says.

The band for the ''Licks'' tour will be the same as last time, including guitarist Ronnie Wood (who successfully entered a detox center this year), former Miles Davis bassist Darryl Jones, former Allman Brothers keyboardist Chuck Leavell, saxophonist Bobby Keys, and backup singers Lisa Fisher and Bernard Fowler.

Some of the concepts will also be the same, such as a B stage on the floor at arena and stadium shows. And the stadium shows will again have a huge production, but minus some of the inflatable balloons that spiced earlier visits. ''It's a more clean machine,'' Richards says of the new stadium stage. ''No baroque.''

Regardless, Sir Mick and Richards claim that they're ready. As Richards says, ''We're not going out there to pussyfoot around. We're going out there to knock your socks off.''

Stones roadie is remembered

The Rolling Stones were shattered during rehearsals in Toronto this summer by the death of their chief roadie and longtime guitar technician, Royden Magee, who had a heart attack at age 54.

''He left a big gap. We're looking for five guys to fill his place,'' says Keith Richards. ''But at the same time, it was almost poetic. I mean he died on a flight case - flight case No. 17,... behind the amplifiers where he's always worked, where he's always taken care of business. It was swift and painless. I was there with him, and he had all his mates around him - everybody he has worked with his whole life. So in that respect, he went the way he wanted to go. ''

This story ran on page C1 of the Boston Globe on 8/30/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

08-30-02 10:16 AM
T&A So - it looks like 9/3 will be highly devoted to their greatest album - EOMS. Wonderful way to start the tour!!!
08-30-02 10:23 AM
nankerphelge BOING!
08-30-02 11:29 AM
Maxlugar This is the greatest article I've seen so far!

I am visibly shaken and typing this note to you, dear reader, with my nipples.

Holy Shit!


08-30-02 11:36 AM
Joey Absolutely stunning article !

Thank You very much CS !

I would like to cuddle you tight and tickle you with my erect nipples .

Joeykins !

08-30-02 11:37 AM
Soul Survivor Joey, are you cold?
08-30-02 11:45 AM
Joey " Joey, are you cold? "

Nah , just perky !

08-30-02 12:17 PM
TheSavageYoungXyzzy Exile in Boston...

Once again, thank you, thank you...

-tSYX --- like predicting the weathah!
08-30-02 01:44 PM
Mr T I hope the stadium shows have some surprises. I could deal with a set of mostly the standard songs(since I've never seen any of them live)

if the just do CYHMK I'll be happy.

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