The Rolling Stones Rock New York! Still Amazing.

By Darren Lowe.

The Rolling Stones – Metlife Stadium , NJ – May 23, 2024

A nasty weekly weather forecast, was the focus of myself and my wife’s attention preceding this very major concert, the main reason for our extended trip to The Big Apple.

Thankfully, thunderstorms and very heavy rain, were all over by midday. The Stones played two concerts At Metlife stadium , NJ, a short, 20- 25 minute journey by coach from the Port Authority. We attended the first, Thursday evening, after purchasing tickets when the sale went online, at some ungodly hour. It was stressful but we managed to get floor tickets.

This was an absolutely mind-blowing concert experience. The best stadium sound I can remember, with a  fantastic view and a great, vocal and excited US audience. In fact, the walk from bus to entry was my first live view of the tail-gating phenomena. Rows of people with full camp, BBQ set up with beverages and a different  Stones song every few metres at full volume. In fact, this was a major event, in a city with a lot of major events, which was a talking point over the next few days as we walked the streets of NY in Stones logo t-shirts.

Jon Batiste, with a 10-piece band, including back singers and dancers, gave us a  wonderful forty-five minute support set. The multi-instrumentalist was a consummate showman, with his funk infused, New Orleans inspired set. Fantastic musicians, back up singers/dancers and a taste of how the cat walk was to be used, actually closer to the action than I can remember in any of the umpteen times that I’ve seen The Stones.

The Stones came on stage about 9.25 pm, with a glorious, intense exciting build up, including Mick’s silhouette through the very large rear stage curtain, (too big to be called a cyclorama perhaps?).

As has been the cast throughout the first few gigs of the tour, the band opened, spectacularly, with ‘Start Me Up’. Now, as I’ve said to many friends in the last few days, I really don’t care how old these guys are anymore. This gig was amazing! (To the set list soon). The musicianship is astounding, possibly amongst the best gigs I’ve seen the band play. Mick is often remarked upon re. his fitness but it really needs to be acknowledged, as I know it always is, that he is of a certain age, running about on stage for two hours – whilst singing! Incredible.

For the first time I can really remember, I was able to distinguish the separate playing of Keith and Ronnie and they are in remarkable form. Listening, waiting, knowing when to back-off. That fabulous loose Stones sound. Clear, crisp, particularly on ‘Jumping Jack Flash’, and on their acoustic interlude, where we got to hear, very exciting. ‘You Got The Silver’.

The touring musicians – many long- term – were exemplary. Chuck Leavell, Bernard Fowler, Matt Clifford, Darryl Jones, Tim Ries, Karl Denson have all played with band for  extended periods. More recently there has been Steve Jordan since 2021 and backing vocalist Chanel Haynes since 2022. As usual, she blew the house away with her part in ‘ Gimme Shelter’.

Despite playing hits in the bulk of their set, I don’t see them as a nostalgia act. They are still playing remarkably well with sixty plus years of material to draw from. Three songs from the Hackney Diamonds album were received well. In fact, ‘Sweet Sounds Of Heaven’ is now a regular encore opener.

Being New York, sorry Jersey, we got ‘Shattered’ and ‘Miss you’ and the fan voted ‘Wild Horses’, nice choice. A sprinkling of early hits including ‘Get Off My Cloud’ and ‘Paint It Black’. Personally, I loved hearing ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

You know it’s a great gig when you are on a high the next day. Exciting, glorious rock songs, still played with passion and enthusiasm after 62 years.