Rolling Stones give good bang for big-buck tickets



A lot has been made of the astronomical ticket prices the Rolling Stones charged on their recent stop in Vancouver, but considering today’s out-of-control construction costs (see 2010 Olympics), there’s some merit to their exorbitance. It looked as if the Stones’ 300-person production crew had built a five-storey apartment complex on the stage. The immense structure—28 metres high and 62 metres wide—wasn’t just for show, though: two viewing platforms on either side of it were jammed with fans who, one suspects, paid extra to be located so close to the action, where they could make like they were part of the show.

Mick Jagger didn’t study economics at college for nothin’, you know.

The band picked a killer tune to open with, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, and Jagger started his nonstop sweatin’-to-the-oldies workout in a silver topcoat that he soon doffed for “It’s Only Rock ’n Roll (But I Like It)”. “We haven’t been here since the Voodoo Lounge tour in 19-something,” he proclaimed, “and everybody said it would be raining, but it’s snowing.”

The unnecessary weather update was followed by “Oh No, Not You Again”, the obligatory new song from the band’s latest CD, A Bigger Bang. Around this time, the concert took its one and only nose-dive, as the substandard 1983 number “She Was Hot” showed up, complete with cheesy ’80s footage played on what must be the world’s biggest video screen.

Classy opener Bonnie Raitt came out to join Jagger for “Shine a Light”, a ballad from the landmark Exile on Main Street, but she didn’t seem particularly inspired during the duet. When the group followed that with another ballad, A Bigger Bang’s “Streets of Love”, it was time to head to the concession stand for a caffeine jolt. (Rejoining the brutal beer lineups wasn’t an option, as they’d already stopped selling alcohol, perhaps in consideration of the worsening road conditions.)

When I returned to my seat, the Stones were in the midst of a down ’n’ dirty “Midnight Rambler”, and the cup of Colombian brew now seemed totally out of place—more so when a four-piece horn section joined in for Exile’s awesome “Tumbling Dice”. Let It Bleed’s “You Got the Silver” kicked off a three-song showcase by Keith Richards that saw the crowd of 51,000 smother the scary-lookin’ rock god in fanatical applause. Someone on the floor even held up an inflatable palm tree in recognition of Keef’s recent tropical tumble.

During “Miss You”, the entire band was transported on a mobile mini stage to the other end of the stadium, so that the bums in the cheap ($175) seats could feel special. “This is a real old one for ya,” hollered Jagger, introducing 1965’s “Get Off of My Cloud”. That tune received a strong response, though not as intense as “Start Me Up”.

Back on the main stage a huge, inflatable version of the Stones’ trademark tongue and lips hailed the arrival of “Honky Tonk Women”, and as the band made its way back, Jagger, 63, saucily raised his T-shirt to expose the abs of an athletic 12-year-old.

“Sympathy for the Devil” ended with two face-warming blasts of flame shot from the lofty top of the stage and appearing to burn out just short of BC Place’s flammable-looking ceiling. Audience members exchanged worried Great White glances, but thankfully the roof failed to catch fire like a marshmallow that’s overstayed its campfire welcome.

The place went nuts when “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was included in the encore, and as deafening blasts were accompanied by a cascade of fireworks and enormous gold streamers, the 116th and final show on the Stones’ A Bigger Bang tour came to a thundering halt.

In a perfect world, the set list would have included “Shattered”, “Hang Fire”, and “Little T and A”, but hey, you can’t always get what you want.

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