This article originally ran in the December 3, 1969 issue of the Boston Phoenix.
The Garden was the scene of a historical rock experience last Saturday when the Stones came to Boston. All the past fiascos staged in the hulking home of the Bruins and the Celtics are forgotten. Not only was the music magnificent, but the sound was flawless, the taking down and setting up between acts expertly brief, and the police and arena personnel pleasant and cool. When we asked an officer if he enjoyed the concert he answered that he liked anything for five dollars an hour. There was a smile on his face.
The second show began only half an hour too late with a punctuality rock fans are hardly accustomed to. Cousin Duffy brought on, with no preliminaries, Terry Reid. His short set was rather dull, but it would be unfair to judge him on its basis. B.U. will offer him a better opportunity to hear him next weekend.
B.B. King's set was masterful, one of the best we've ever heard him do. The long and slow intro to "How Blue Can You Get?" was a gem of wit and good humor. Instead of hurrying him along with claps and chants for Mick, the crowd insisted on an encore and gave B.B. a standing ovation. He will be at Lennie's next week, and many who came to see the Stones will be found out on Route 1 come a few days.
After only a few minutes of testing and tuning, the "greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world" casually ambled on. It was just like in Time: Mick sheathed in slinky black, wrapped in a lavender satin Iradora Duncan scarf, an Uncle Sam top hat cocked over his eye, "Jumpin' Jack Flash." It was the same set they'd performed across the country and would do only once more, in West Palm Beach the following day.
Keith looked like an ugly female gypsy, ear-ringed, be-sequined, expressionless in red. Newcomer Mick Taylor seemed out of place in pastels, like a refugee from the Kinks. Bill and Charlie were as stony and unobtrusive as ever. Visually the Stones were beside the point. The lights and the crowd's eyes never strayed from Mick.
He tossed off his hat and the first four numbers in short order. They were curiously unexciting; the tempo wasn't fast enough. "Sympathy for the Devil," played without jungle noises, piano or frenzy, was the disappointment of the evening. "Stray Cat Blues," which Mick dedicated to "a lady" sounded like "Lady Jane." He didn't even say "scroow" like on the record. Mick was dancing, but it was pantomime, not part of the music. His flopping legs, shivering hands, and coital pelvis were working in a vacuum.
"Love in Vain" was the concert's first moving moment. Mick dedicated it to "the minority groups in the audience, (taunting chuckle) to the fags and the junkies." He sang it with stark sincerity. Barely gesturing, he did it precisely as on Let It Bleed. When he ended the number howling in unison with Mick Taylor's slide guitar a hushed chill was in the air.
Two songs on acoustic guitar followed, "Prodigal Son" and surprisingly, Rev. Gary Davis' "You Got To Move." Keith even did a little bottle-necking.