The 40 greatest concerts in Boston history: 3

The Rolling Stones | Boston Garden | July 18, 1972
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  October 25, 2006


Stuck inside of Warwick: The Rolling Stones at Boston Garden. By Ben Gerson

The Rolling Stones, back there somewhere
Like U2 and Springsteen, the Stones have a way of always being good. But the most memorable Stones show in Boston took place on the Exile tour, during that period in which they were at their unholiest. It all started with a scrap between a photographer and the band in Rhode Island, and it ended with Mayor Kevin White on stage at the Garden doing his best to prevent a riot while Stevie Wonder played one of the longest opening sets in history. In between, the cops discovered Keith’s little black bag and the Glimmer Twins were taken away in cuffs to be dealt with by the courts. Never mind that for years Keith was known to say that the Exile tour was the Stones at their dirty best; the chain of events they’d set in motion on July 18, 1972 would kick an already explosive tour up a couple of notches. Mayor White had to appeal to the Rhode Island authorities to let the best rock-and-roll band in the world go lest the city of Boston burn to the ground. Now that’s a band with clout. Rhode Island relented and, in a nice ironic twist, the band were sped up Route 95 with a police escort. When I mention memorable Boston gigs to Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, he doesn’t even hesitate: “Without question it was the Stones in ’72 at the Garden. It was as amazing as you can imagine. And it was a combination of events that you just can’t orchestrate. It was the kind of thing that made the Stones what they are. I mean, the biggest rock-and-roll outlaws in the world get arrested and then make a mad dash to Boston with a police escort! And, I remember Mayor White throwing a football out into the crowd to keep everyone occupied. And, then, finally, they arrived: the street-fighting men with all the rock-and-roll lifestyle they had. And they kicked ass.”
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