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Concert Reviews:
Rolling Stones fill Comerica Park show with lots of love for Detroit
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT – You can say this about the Rolling Stones’ truncated touring schedule in recent years; playing only two or three shows a week gives frontman Mick Jagger plenty of time to do his homework about the cities the group vusuts.

On Wednesday night, July 8, at Comerica Park, Jagger filled the 19-song, two hour and 15-minute show with nearly as many Motor City references as a local newscast. He shouted greetings to Michiganders and Youpers. He name-checked Bob Seger, Eminem and Kid Rock as musicians who have influenced the Stones before introducing the night’s Motown tribute, a rendition of the Temptations’ “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me).” He recalled playing the Stones’ first Detroit show, in 1964 for a crowd of about 300 at the old Olympia Arena.

And he managed to invoke The Mitten, Ernie Harwell and Lafayette Coney Island in one fell swoop during a segment introducing the band members.

All that was icing on the proverbial cake, of course. Three years down the road from the 50th anniversary of the venerable band’s formation and with its core members in their 70s, the Stones possess plenty to please a crowd – five decades of iconic rock ‘n’ roll, more bona fide hits than the Tigers have managed in some recent games, if you will, and plenty of “deep cut” favorites that could fill a week’s worth of stadium shows without running out of top-shelf material.

Wednesday’s stop on the Stones’ Zip Code Tour, before a nearly sold-out crowd at Comerica that included Motown great Martha Reeves and Detroit native and Stones collaborator Don Was, focused on the gems from that catalog, from the opening “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” to the final encore of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – - the latter celebrating its own golden anniversary this year. And despite its scale, the show was the most modest spectacle the group has presented in a stadium setting, stripping away the visual gimmicks of yore – no giant balloons or moving stage parts, for example – and leaving just three massive video screens and a few pyrotechnics. That let the music itself carry the night – edgy and exciting most of the time, and rough and tumble in spots (notably “Honky Tonk Women” and “Start Me Up”). But the latter actually works for the Stones; this is, after all a band that comes from the “gin-soaked bar” scene Jagger sings about and is more suited to rough edges than the polish of, say, One Direction or Taylor Swift.

Highlights on Wednesday included a gritty “All Down the Line,” a gentle “Moonlight Mile” and a granite-hard “Gimme Shelter” that let backing vocalist Lisa Fischer wail to the heavens. Vampy, extended arrangements of “Midnight Rambler” and “Miss You” let guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood stretch out, with the latter making room as well for solos by bassist Darryl Jones and saxophonist Tim Ries, a Detroit native. Richards’ singing still isn’t Jaggeresque (and never will be), but his “Happy” rocked with genuine gusto. And Jagger, who sported nine different tops during the show and is still fit enough at 71 to pull off a black sheer top, delivered all of his trademark moves, replacing his once dervish dancing with a little more economy of movement to make sure he could torque things up a notch when he had to.

And it was hard not to be touched by the ebullient faces of the Oakland University Chorale, which sang on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

There’s been talk of the Stones wrapping things up…well, since back in the 70s, really, but at this juncture it certainly seems more plausible. So if the group’s 19th visit to the Detroit area on Wednesday proves to be its last, it was a fine farewell. But the Stones showed its rock ‘n’ roll tank is hardly nearing empty, so betting against a future return might not be advisable after all.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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