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09-05-02 08:01 AM


The Stones rock – and the money rolls in for the last time

Forty years after their first gig, the Rolling Stones set out on their final tour, which will visit 97 cities on four continents and earn millions

By Andrew Buncombe in Boston
05 September 2002

It was a little before midnight, the man with the biceps had just stepped out of the 7-11 convenience store, and he stood with his hand above his head, his horizontal palm framed by Boston's blue-lit skyline.

"Man, it's like you've got Elvis, you've got the Beatles, you've got Sinatra and you've got the Rolling Stones. They're all up there together," he proclaimed . "The Stones, man. They're up there. You just saw them. They're the originals. They're doing it for real."

Forty years after they first started doing it, the Rolling Stones – arguably the most influential and the most enduring of British rock bands – are doing it once again.

This time, they say, will be the last time. They hardly need the estimated £175m in profits that the tour is likely to generate. But given the energy with which they explosively opened this 97-date tour in Boston on Tuesday night, there appears to be no shortage of enthusiasm to continue doing what they have done for the past four decades. Concerned mothers may still be required to lock up their daughters for a little while longer yet.

"What else can a poor boy do except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band?" cried Mick Jagger, as if explaining what might possess a 59-year-old man to behave in this way, as the band launched into "Street Fighting Man" to open a raucous 22-song set. The crowd of young, middle-aged and old at the city's Fleet Centre stadium – all as delirious as the man outside the store – roared them on.

Of course, even back in the summer of 1962, when the bad boys of rock made their debut at the Marquee Club in London, the recently knighted Jagger was never a poor boy and at the age of 59, and dressed in the designs of Dirk Schönberger, Hedi Slimane and Calvin Klein, he certainly is not one now.

The Licks world tour, which will take the band across the US, Asia and Europe before ending in Britain next summer, will add to the fortunes of Jagger and his fellow Stones – Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, the drummer Charlie Watts and Darryl Jones, who replaced the bassist Bill Wyman when he left in 1993. With tickets going at up to $350 apiece, reports suggest that the 40-date US leg of the tour, which will take them to 25 different cities, will be the biggest-earning rock show in North America this year. No wonder Jagger looked so pleased with himself as he told the crowd: "There's nothing so exciting as starting right here in Boston."

Historic Boston is one of America's oldest cities and Jagger would appreciate the irony of the band opening here with three gigs. In addition to Jagger, Richards is also 59, Watts is 61, Wood is 55, while Jones is a relatively youthful 41.

It was a strange sensation to find oneself at a rock concert, surrounded by 16,000 strangers, contemplating the nature of mortality, but confronted by Jagger and his ageing pals as they roared through a two-hour set, it was difficult to avoid.

It is not as though they look particularly wholesome, despite reports that they have been "working out" in preparation for the tour, along with their roadies, part of the huge entourage for the tour, who had to lug around the 45 tonnes of equipment and staging for the first date. Jagger, with the lips of a platypus and the narrow hips of a young girl, looks as ugly as ever. Richards, gnarled and skeletal, looks as though he came straight from a tequila-drinking contest with Satan, in which the Devil has come a very poor second.

And rightly so. The Rolling Stones have always stood as a shorthand for rock 'n' roll excess and not just for throwing television sets out of their hotel rooms. Window watchers would have been disappointed last night gazing towards the upper floors of the Four Seasons hotel in Boston where they were staying. Of plummeting televisions there was no sign.

Last time, the Rolling Stones hit Boston in 2000, their suite was "rockin' like the last days of Pompeii," according to a city newspaper. With wives, and children in tow, the tour is expected to be a little more subdued this time round.

Still, their reputation precedes them for having a lead singer play a gig wearing a dress (Hyde Park 1969), for seducing girls, for arrests and drug busts, and for an enthusiasm for hard-living and abandonment that set the standard.

Indeed, over the past 40 years there have been so many stories told about Richards alone that it is hard to know where fact stops and myth begins. Did he, for instance, have all his blood replaced in a Swiss clinic in 1978 to help him pass a drugs test to enter the US? Did he at one drug-fuelled point in the Sixties stay awake for nine consecutive days? (No and yes respectively, according to Richards, who warned an interviewer who asked about the sleep-free week: "It is really true. Don't try it.")

But while they may be gnarled, if Tuesday night was any example the Stones still have an energy that utterly belies their age. They may have had to settle differences before going on this tour, but Jagger in particular was like a three-year-old stuffed full of E numbersas he pranced and pouted, strutted and ran across the stage as the band went through a set-list that included "Brown Sugar", "Satisfaction", "It's Only Rock 'n'Roll", as well as obscure numbers such as "If You Can't Rock Me".

There was even a new track, called "Don't Stop". Jagger said the band was choosing to play as wide a range of its music as possible. In the month of rehearsals in Toronto, the band has prepared 130 songs which they intend to perform during the tour. "Some of the songs may be a little off, but we will have a go at anything and take a few chances," said Jagger.

To be fair, very little was off. The Stones were not only as enthusiastic as ever but they sounded as tight and together as they ever have been.

Jagger's enthusiasm was infectious. After singing and dancing his way through a cover of the O'Jays' classic "Love Train" he whooped to the crowd: "We've never let that one out in public before. That was fun."

On the way out a woman in a tie-dyed T-shirt beamed a smile so wide that even Jagger's rubber lips would have struggled to match it. "They're rockers, they're rockers," she cried. "They rocked."

Start them up ...

A year on the road

Four continents: North America, Australia, Asia, including gigs in China and maybe India, and Europe. The US will have 40 shows in 27 cities. Some cities will have three shows: one in a small club, one in an arena and one "greatest hits" stadium show.

The entourage

There are 180 personnel with the tour, including 120 production staff, 50 lorry drivers, 10 bus drivers, 25 cooks, four accountants, 10 travel office staff, and 5 wardrobe staff. Some 30 technicians look after the band's equipment on stage. Each band member has two security men. Mick Jagger has a personal staff of three, including his personal trainer. Some 200 people from each city are hired to create the stadium sets, including dozens of carpenters and scaffolders.

The wheels

Production equipment is carried by 31 lorries, 22 lorries carry scaffolding, and 10 buses ferry tour staff around each city.

The bottom line

The tour is expected to gross more than $200m (£130m).

09-05-02 08:08 AM
Moonisup mmmmm it says it will be the last time, but I doubt that, even charlie said it won't be the last tour ore the last time they perform together!!
09-05-02 08:32 AM
Jumacfly Well, these british journalists seems still sarcastic about their prodigal france, Liberation made a complete enthousiastic report, except for Keith, they considered happy and sleeping away like the halftime of a footballl game.But were really amazed by CYHMK and few others.
but they didn t talk about money, wrinkles, grandpas etc was quite nice to read this, without any cliché.

let them roll....


09-05-02 08:58 AM
Maxlugar Andrew Buncombe must either be a retard or a piece of shit liar.

No where, NO WHERE, did the Stones EVER say this will be their last tour.

How can I take any of the rest of this article serious when he starts it like this.

Your full of shit Mr. Butt-Comber. I'd like to kick you in the ass.

God damn do I hate when I read that shit!



09-05-02 09:00 AM
FotiniD The usual "last time" drill, comments about the "wrinkly rockers", flashback to the "bad-boy days" and comeback to "moneymaking machine". I'm fed up of them articles. Why do they even bother writing new articles? Why don't they just browse through 1998's edition of their paper of even 1967's edition for all I know and change a few things here and there, it'd be the same.

God, who needs this?! Terrible, terrible lack of writing skills and anything innovative. Boring stuff.
09-05-02 09:05 AM
FotiniD Of course they never said that Maxy! Quite the contrary, I mean all they were saying on the Times interview was like 'can't stop it!'. I mean, how dull can a journalist be... Oh, those articles really make me angry. So unfair! They let brainless commercial products like Britney Spears get away with murder and they bash the Stones; as if they're not THE greatest band who wrote the whole damn book about being a band, and have just started what seems to be one of the best tours of the last years! God, I'm angry!!!
09-05-02 09:53 AM
FotiniD Ok, stop me already. Why do I always go on "can't-stop-writing" mode when the tour starts? Whatever.

Thinking of the press comments, the "crippled spider" thing too... Rename the room Keith! From "Baboon Cage" to "Spider Web". Ah, that's the only use of the #%&#^%$ comment.

Ok, it's out of the system I'll kick that 'journalist' on the head if I see him Sorry!
09-05-02 10:02 AM
corgi37 I actually think it wasnt too bad an article. Apart from the age and references, it seemed pretty positive. And as for the "tequila drinking contest with Satan", well, that is just a classic.