The next segment had some interesting moments but, in retrospect, it appeared to be designed as a prelude. “Angie” and “Wild Horses” were introduced by identically rich guitar sonorities, and during the latter’s chorus Wood, Jagger and Richards harmonized into one mike, looking like a grouping form one of Remington’s historical portraits. On “Fingerprint File” Bill Wyman noodled on either a synthesizer or a keyboard (is this a Stones’ first?) while Wood played bass and Jagger stroked a guitar. Billy Preston was allowed two numbers, “Feel With It,” and “Outtaspace,” but he couldn’t get the audience boogying until Jagger returned to the stage, grabbed Preston from behind and started dancing. (It’s telling that Preston’s antics were a high point of George Harrison’s show last year, and the low point of the Stones’ show.)
Then came the deluge: “Brown Sugar,” infused by Richards and Wood’s guitars with a mad power, followed by a “Midnight Rambler” in which Jagger flailed the stage with his glittering belt and sent rhinestones flying; “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” the “I like it”s delivered with even more syrupy coyness than on the record; an impossibly fast-paced “Rip This Joint”; “Street Fighting Man” (Keith, with knees bent slightly, pounding his guitar with roundhouses, Jagger abandoning his shirt); and finally, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” (During this number Jagger and Preston urged an inflated plastic caterpillar to the edge of the stage, where it spewed red balloons and, it appeared, Preston himself. Attendants could be seen dragging the wooly-haired keyboardist out of the audience and back to safety.)
There have been exciting concerts this year, like Roxy Music and the Average White Band, which affirmed the existence of viable, intelligent, physical rock ‘n’ roll. But the return of the Rolling Stones, in body and in original spirit, is extraordinarily salutary, for them and for the generations to whom they are so deeply important. Because, at least for now, the reign of the memory of Altamont has ended.
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