Rolling Stones’ quest for eternal youth continues at MetLife show (REVIEW, SETLIST, VIDEOS)

ROlling stones metlife review

Mick Jagger at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, on May 23.

A lot has happened since The Rolling Stones last performed in New Jersey, in 2019. A pandemic. An insurrection. Too many iterations, throughout the world, of the “red-coal carpet” of war that Mick Jagger sings about in “Gimme Shelter.”

It almost feels like a different world. But when The Stones played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 23, in the first of their two shows there on their Hackney Diamonds Tour, we were reminded that some things, against all odds, can stay the same.

Slightly more than 60 years after the British band released their first United States single (the prophetically titled “Not Fade Away,” in March 1964), The Stones remain a rock ‘n’ roll force of nature like no other, even though The Hackney Diamonds Tour is sponsored — no joke — by AARP. (Co-founders Jagger and Keith Richards both turned 80 last year; Ron Wood, a band member since 1975, is 76.) Jagger is still a boundlessly energetic frontman, while Richards still seems as charmingly nonchalant as a human being can look while performing for 50,000 or so people.

Chanelle Haynes at MetLife Stadium.

Steve Jordan played drums, replacing Charlie Watts, who died in August 2021. He didn’t stray far from Watts’ template, playing with a subtle sense of swing and rarely adding the kind of showy fills that would draw much attention to himself. Also new since 2019: singer Chanelle Haynes, who sang the duet part on “Gimme Shelter” with stunning power. She really reminded me a young Tina Turner; I later learned that she played the title role in a London production of “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.”

The nearly two-hour show included three songs from the Stones’ solid 2023 album Hackney Diamonds: the brittle, snarling “Angry”; “Mess It Up”; and, as the first encore, the gospel-flavored “Sweet Sounds of Heaven,” which also featured Haynes. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” arguably the most iconic song in the catalog of a band that has a ton of them, was the second encore and show-closer.

The majestic ballad “Wild Horses” made it into the setlist via a fan vote, and “Shattered” made its tour debut, undoubtedly because of its New York references. But “Brown Sugar,” which was played in 2019, was not there: In 2021, band members decided they would no longer perform it on tour, because of its controversial references to slavery.

Introducing “Miss You,” Jagger couldn’t resist a topical joke: “I was a bit worried about the weather tonight. I thought we were going to get a bit of a Stormy Daniels.” (Despite some heavy rain in the area in the morning, the show was precipitation-free.)

He also revived the great Tick Tock Diner controversy of 2019. (He had claimed from the MetLife stage, then, that he had visited the Clifton diner, though many doubted that he really did.)

“On the way to the show, I stopped in there,” he said this time, after “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” “And I found out they’ve got a new sandwich. And it’s called The Mick Jagger. I’ve never had a fucking sandwich named after me before. So I’m very, very proud, and me, and Keith, and Ronnie, we’re going to eat it after the show.”

For the record, there is indeed a sandwich named The Mick Jagger at The Tick Tock Diner. It’s Taylor ham, cheese and two fried eggs on a roll, with disco fries. But, no, I still won’t believe that Jagger himself actually has been there, until I see a photo.

If the Stones’ set was all about defiance in the face of advancing age, Jon Batiste’s 40 minute-plus opening set represented the other side of the coin: The unadulterated joy of youthful exuberance. (Though he released his first album 20 years ago, he is still just 37, and seems even younger.) He brought a big, boisterous group to the stadium, including dancers and a horn section, bounced around from guitar to keyboards to drums, and made full use of the small mid-stadium stage and the ramp leading up to it that Jagger later prowled.

He performed a lot of his own material, including the anthemic “Freedom,” plus bits of everything from “When the Saints Go Marching In” to Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman” and Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner.” After it got dark enough, he asked everyone to turn their cellphones on, in order to create a thousand points of light for his ballad “Butterfly.”

The guy can play anything: His piano playing showed influences ranging from classical music to the R&B piano boogie of his hometown, New Orleans. And though his songwriting is still too derivative to win me over fully, I will say, without reservation, “Wow, what a showman!”

From left, Ron Wood, Steve Jordan and Keith Richards at MetLife Stadium.

Here is the Stones’ setlist and, below it, a few videos.

“Start Me Up”
“Get Off of My Cloud”
“It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)”
“Wild Horses”
“Mess It Up
“Tumbling Dice”
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
“You Got the Silver” (Keith Richards, lead vocals)
“Little T&A” (Keith Richards, lead vocals)
“Sympathy for the Devil”
“Honky Tonk Women”
“Miss You”
“Gimme Shelter”
“Paint It Black”
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”

“Sweet Sounds of Heaven”
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

For tickets to the 8 p.m. May 26 show at MetLife Stadium, with the band Lawrence opening, visit


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