The Stones wrapped up their "Bigger Bang" tour in Vancouver over the weekend. I was there with my son. It was my second Stones concert. It was my son's first concert ever.
Back in 1998, our family had just finished unpacking from our cross country relocation. The big city was a strange and new kinda place. One that offered many more entertainment options than we had been accustomed to back East. (For those of you who don't know me , back "East" means the Maritimes.) When I arrived in August of 97 I learned that the Rolling Stones would be making a tour stop in Vancouver in January. For me the Stones in the city area where I lived seemed odd. The closest Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie ever played for us in the Maritimes was either Boston or Montreal. Either way it was a nine or ten hour drive to Montreal or Boston. Out of the question except for the most die hard of fan.
Anyway I was able to get some tickets for the 98 tour, Bridges to Babylon. Not only was I able to score tickets but they were 14th row floor tickets. When my wife arrived later that fall, I surprised her with the tickets. It would be our first Stones concert and we were jacked about it.
My memories of our first Stones live experience are still vivid to this day. BC Place is a large stadium, perhaps not by American standards, but large none the less. The place went dark, there was a large cheer of anticipation. I was wide eyed and anxious. Then suddenly the sound of a familiar riff. Lights begin to come up and there larger than life is Keith in a leopard patterned gunslinger like coat, cig lit and hanging from his mouth, striding to front stage playing "Satisfaction". Mick appears as almost by magic, again larger than life from our 14th row seat. We are on our feet and cheer like little school girls and just like that the Stones spectacular begins. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. We both had smiles on for the rest of the evening. It truly was a magical night for the two of us as we witnessed the spectacle that is the Rolling Stones live experience.
We were both amazed at how Mick would run from extreme stage left to extreme stage right. You couldn't take your eyes off of him.
Now nine years later, they were back. I was away when tickets went on sale, so I missed out. Before you know it the place is sold out. I was able to get my hands on a pair of cheaper seats, which I no doubt paid too much for, but it was about being in the building for me. I would take my son on this occasion. And when we climbed into our seats, I realized just how bad they were. I did my best to hide my disappointment to my son as this would be his first concert and I didn't want it to be a bad one.
As disappointing as our seats were, they did give me a perspective which was totally missed during my 14 th row view of nine years ago. That of just how big the show really is. It seems that the Mick, Keith and the lads have figured out how to play to the entire venue.
I couldn't make out any facial features from the back. Yet thanks to a massive screen center stage, you seldom missed anything. We were surrounded by first time Stones goers and I guess you could say that their excitement of being there kinda made up for my rather poor ticket selection.
Again I was in awe of how Mick would sprint from one side of the stage to the other. The guy never stopped moving. For a man of 63, it boggles me as I was winded just getting up the stairs to my seat. There were several great moments in the show. When Mick introduced the band, there was a long and thunderous ovation for Keith Richards. He seemed genuinely moved by this and as he approached the center stage mic, he said in typical Richards form, "I've forgotten what I'm supposed to do. It must be brain damage." The crowd went wild. And I will give credit to the Video director and one of the camera guys but at that very moment the shot in the big screen switched to a crowd shot of a guy holding an inflatable palm tree. I laughed my ass off. It was a great moment.
Keith went onto perform 3 numbers giving Mick a rest back stage and no wonder. The man must have run a half Marathon in that first half of the show. When he returned to the stage the best part of the show was to begin. Again as in the Bridges' tour the lads migrated from the main stage to a center stage located in the middle of the venue. This time instead of walking over a bridge, they gathered near Charlie's drum kit and the stage began to move forward. All the while playing "Miss You". The mini mobile stage moves about 70 yards down field giving all of us in the crap seats a good look and a great performance.
They wrap up the mini stage "B" portion with 'Honky Tonk Woman", the stage begins to migrate back to the main stage, the crowd is going wild and out of the giant screen comes this maga inflatable mouth/tongue. I glanced at my son, who was now really enjoying the visual barrage that was before us.
Mick performed "Sympathy for the Devil" after the return to the main stage. It was classic. Flames from the top of the 9 story set, Mick in his red and black belting it our, again never still for more than 2 seconds. It was truly the kind of moment that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
Before long after a couple more numbers, Mick said' Thank you Good Night Vancouver!"
My son said "Is it over?"
"No" I said, "they will do one encore. and the last song will be "Satisfaction".
Out they came, with "You Can't Get What You Want", Mick taking the opportunity to sprint again both stage left and right and then down the stairs back out to the stage "B" site saluting the fans in all directions but especially those up near the ceiling, pointing, acknowledging those of us who didn't get the good seats.
They finished with "Satisfaction" and with that my second Stones concert was complete. Sitting in the rafters enabled me to see just how incredible a performer Mick Jagger is. He played to the entire stadium. Fifty Five thousand people went home happy. My son, his first concert, a STONES concert. Yes they are the greatest Iconic Rock 'n Roll band of our time. I feel fortunate to have experience their live show, not once, but twice. I cannot compare this experience to my 14 row ,, yet I got to see the show from a far and you know, "you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need!"
I got what I needed. A different Stones experience.