Man, I must be a lucky son-of-a-gun. Within a span of four days, the Tommy musical AND a freakin' Stones concert.
Since I have been in Tokyo since 1991, I have managed to catch these fellows on every tour. Always the same venue, and I always go with the same person, a female friend who is quite a Stones fiend. When they first came to Japan in 1990 during the Steel Wheels tour, she saw ALL 10 shows. Nor does the story end there, she proceeded to follow them to New York and caught three shows at Shea Stadium. Talk about dedication, for better or worse.
My wife never seems to take an interest in the Stones, and insists that I go ahead with my friend. OK...
As has been the pattern so far, the fans seem to be older and older. However this time, I also saw a fair number of kids. I don't mean teenagers or adult children of fans, I mean literally pre-teen children. The Stones have become truly all-ages entertainment. A far cry from their American tours in the seventies when a Stones concert could be truly life-threatening.
In fact, around the area we sat (waaaay up in the rafters), the mood was greatly picked up by the antics of a group of four young Caucasian girls with American accents. Three of them looked around fourteen or so, but one of them was only around 11 or 12. They were hanging out by the railing, dancing and leaping around wildly. The little one was a true whirling dervish, horsing around with any passers-by, and at one point started climbing up on the railing (the drop was only about five feet so it wasn't as if she was on a suicide mission from hell). The security staff nearby kept having to push these girls back or discipline them, but after a few seconds they would be all over the place again.
The show was fabulous as ever. They didn't look or act as if they have aged a minute since the last time I saw them which was three years ago.
Mick's Japanese skills seem to improve on every tour. At one point he asked, in Japanese, "Do you remember this song?"... as Keith sat on a chair and starting plucking out on an acoustic guitar the opening notes to "As Tears Go By". It was a real treat, the first time I saw them play it live.
Another rarity was "Paint it Black", in which Keith very capably handled the duties of the incomparable and long-departed Brian Jones on what may have been a Coral Sitar.
"Sympathy for the Devil" was also very cool, somehow the opening piano sounded funkier than it is on the record, as if it were done by Fatboy Slim.
The key supporting members have also stayed the same for years and years now: Lisa Fisher and Bernard Fowler on backing vocals, Chuck Leavell on keyboards, and of course Bobby Keys on sax. During Mick's introduction of the band members, Bobby received an applause that went on and on.
After the concert I asked my friend, "How many more times do you think we will get to see the Stones?". Her answer: "Dunno. At this pace I'll probably be gone before they are".
One of the entrance gates
MSN Blimps - Just can't get away from Microsoft, can we?
Keith and Ronnie on the big screen - ever the reprobates
Tongues - Both the digital and inflatable varieties