Rolling Stones at MetLife Stadium, Night 2 review: A band ‘on fire’ (WITH VIDEOS)

rolling stones may 26 review

Mick Jagger at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, May 26.

“It was probably one of the most powerful concerts on the tour so far. They were on fire,” said Bernard Fowler about The Rolling Stones’ May 26 concert at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Fowler sang backing vocals for the band at the show, as he has since 1989.

I shared his enthusiasm. In fact, I have never enjoyed a concert more. More than 60 years after releasing their first single in the United States, “Not Fade Away,” this British band has proven that it has no intention of leaving the stage. As Fowler said, “If they keep doing what they’re doing and have fun doing it, then why would they?”

For nearly two hours, they played with buoyancy, keeping crowd members on their feet. I couldn’t help but feel exhausted at the thought of them repeating this frenetic display of energy at the upcoming shows on their Hackney Diamonds Tour, which is currently scheduled to end on July 21.

Some of the magic came from the audience’s response. Excitement, joy and celebration were in the air. It felt like the first snow in Central Park or watching crocuses pop up after a long, cold winter. The two shows at MetLife stadium (they also performed there on May 23) were their first there in five years, and the anticipation was evident.

Not relying on nostalgia, the performances felt fresh, passionate and inspiring. For anyone over 60 who hopes to be actively engaged in something worthwhile during our advanced years, Mick Jagger serves as a guru of aging gracefully. The band’s defiant attitude encourages me to believe that the best is yet to come or, at least, that another exciting chapter awaits.

Ron Wood and Keith Richards at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, May 26.

It is fitting that The AARP is sponsoring this tour, which showcases older musicians in top form. The band, which has expressed a rebellious spirit over the years, now challenges aging. Sign me up for their health regimen.

The tour follows the release of 2023’s Hackney Diamonds, the band’s first album of new, original material in 18 years. They performed four songs from it, but also hit after hit from other albums, reminding us of their remarkably catchy riffs.

There is simply no other band that can perform to an arena-sized audience with comparable, captivating brilliance. No one works a crowd like Mick Jagger (though Bruce Springsteen is a close second), repeatedly dancing like an athlete in top form, down and back up the runway. His vocal performance was astounding; unlike many of his peers, he still sounds sensual and expressive.

Keith Richards — who, like Jagger, is 80 — stands his ground with his casual swagger as he interacted with the 76-year-old Ronnie Wood. Together, the guitarists drive this remarkable group forward. Jagger also performed on his own mid-stadium island, apart from his bandmates.

Though the show spotlighted the core trio, the band as a whole should be credited with creating a rich and exciting concert. Jagger, Richards and Wood were joined by bassist Darryl Jones, drummer Steve Jordan (replacing Charlie Watts, who died in 2021), saxophonists Karl Denson and Tim Ries, and keyboardists Chuck Leavell and Matt Clifford. Fowler and Chanelle Haynes added their otherworldly vocals to the mix, amplifying the sound; when I heard their voices, I felt like I had entered a holy concert setting.

There were some surprises in the setlist, including “Tell Me Straight,” from Hackney Diamonds, which Richards sang to a hushed audience. When the lights dimmed, Richards sang, “How do we finish? How do we start. Tell me straight.” It doesn’t seem like this band will finish anytime soon, if their health remains intact, given the palpable joy displayed on stage.

Taking their bows after The Rolling Stones’ May 26 concert were, from left, Chuck Leavell, Chanelle Haynes, Mick Jagger, Bernard Fowler, Ron Wood, Steve Jordan, Keith Richards, Darryl Jones, Matt Clifford, Karl Denson and Tim Ries.

They band performed three other songs for the first time on their Hackney Diamonds Tour: “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker),” “Bitch” (watch below) and “Midnight Rambler.” Jagger posed dramatically on the runway when he performed “Midnight Rambler.” He also sang “Whole Wide World,” the gospel-drenched “Sweet Sounds of Heaven” and the direct, bitter “Angry” (all from Hackney Diamonds).

Many favorites were played, but I’ll point out two that linger: the majestic “Wild Horses” (watch below) and “Gimme Shelter,” with Haynes’ captivating duet vocal.

The Stones opened with “Start Me Up,” sang a lively version of “Honky Tonk Women,” and closed with the iconic “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

I was heartened to learn that the band’s 1971 classic “Brown Sugar,” which was a staple in their concerts until recently, no longer makes it into their setlists. I was also glad that they skipped “Some Girls.” It is important to evolve and they seem to have responded to concerns about misogynistic and racist lyrics.

Certainly, this show triggered memories from long ago, and reminded some of us about our younger selves. A friend who sat near me said “Wild Horses” set off an internal dialogue with her deceased brother, who revered the song.

However, the vitality displayed by the Stones onstage also serves as a reminder to stay fresh, stay sexy like Mick, pursue passions at 80, dance if you can, and remember that “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.”


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