As my friend and I boarded the Lyft headed to Chicago's Soldier Field something dawned on me; we were about to see the first Rolling Stones concert since front-man Mick Jagger's heart surgery.
The tickets had been bought months in advance; way before the announcement of Jagger's illness. Once I found out about his heart condition I figured the concert was a loss, but when it was announced that the show we had tickets to would be the band's first gig in almost a year, I knew this would be an important concert. A concert where Jagger would have to prove to the world he still had his moves; and prove he did...on a major scale.
Our Lyft pulled up along a long line of other cars and police were shooing the traffic away. The Lyft driver told us that we had to get out now or never, so we hopped out and jumped the rail on the side of the road and followed the masses of people making their way to the stadium.
Rolling Stones art was skillfully chalked on the ground and merch booths were everywhere; each with an astoundingly long line of fans already wearing Stones gear, but wanting to get the current No Filter tour t-shirt.
We made our way into the stadium and found our seats, which were the second row from the back in the back of the stadium. At this point I knew I would only be seeing specks on the stage, but I didn't care.
The four large screens above the stage then lit up red and the Stones' tongue logo appeared on each. Then some of the most amazing words I've ever heard boomed with exuberance from the speakers: "Ladies and gentlemen, the Rolling Stones!"
Keith Richards' guitar crunched into action, followed by Ronnie Wood's strumming action and Charlie Watts' expert drumming. Jagger then strutted on stage and started jumping with his fist high above his head. Jagger was back, and there was no mistaking it. The band opened with "Street Fighting Man," which was amazing, seeing as it is one of the first Stones songs I remember absolutely loving. The show kicked off in a stunning fashion.
The stage was set up for Jagger. On either side of the stage, there was a mini catwalk, and in the center of the stage there was a long catwalk leading to a mini stage at the 50 yard line. Jagger utilized these by running and skipping down them.
Next up came the sweet licks of "Let's Spend the Night Together," followed by "Tumbling Dice."
Jagger then took a moment to strut to the microphone stand to say, "We love Chicago so much we decided to start the tour here instead of Miami." However, we all know the reasoning behind that, tricky Mick-y. We are just glad you are back in good health.
"This is one we rarely do," said Jagger. "Sad Sad Sad," was up next; a song the Stones haven't played since September of 2002. What a treat; banging out classic greatest hits with a few obscurities thrown in. "You Got Me Rocking" was the winning song the crowd voted on, strangely enough...even the band found that to be an interesting choice.
Up next came a song that was used heavily (without permission) by a certain 2016 presidential candidate. "You Can't Always Get What You Want," other than the choral elements in the beginning, sounded just like on the album. Hell, all of these songs so far sounded nearly perfect. The energy was sublime.
The band then moved to the mini stage at the 50 yard line for two acoustic songs. "How are you doing here, at the 50 yard line?" asked Jagger. First off was "Angie," which gave me shivers when Jagger emphatically sang the line, "Angie, ain't it good to be alive!" "Angie" was directly followed by a beautiful rendition of "Dead Flowers."
The Stones made it back to the main stage to play a rousing version of "Sympathy for the Devil," Jagger encouraging the giant crowd to join in on the "woo, woos." "Honky Tonk Women" followed, then Richards sang two songs, giving Jagger a break. Richards sang "You Got the Silver" and "Before They Make Me Run."
Jagger swaggered back to the stage, arms flailing in true Jagger fashion. "Miss You" went off without a hitch, followed by a haunting "Paint it Black." "Midnight Rambler" was next in the mix, then "Start Me Up," "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and the somewhat creepy song, "Brown Sugar."
The band left the stage, but within a minute were back on for the two song encore, which included a sexually charged "Gimme Shelter" with Jagger exchanging lines one-on-one with the beautiful voice of Sasha Allen. The final song was an amazing rendition of "Satisfaction," followed by a fireworks display that seemed to shoot up above the enormous Chicago skyline.
The Stones had completed their first gig since Jagger's health scare, and he did it with a finesse that made it look like he was trying to prove something...because he was. Moments in the show brought out his brush with mortality. An emphasis on the fact that he is glad to be anywhere now. There was a certain air to him that even made the band smile and shake their heads in wonder.
Jagger is back, he's in top form and I got to see the greatest rock and roll band of all time.
P.S. To see Ari's video of the first hour of the concert, click here: https://www.facebook.com/ari.lebowitz.5/videos/10103030991236366/?id=10103030991236366&overlay=1¬if_id=1561426209306616¬if_t=story_reshare