Tonight the Rolling Stones play the final scheduled date on their 50…and Counting tour. The setting will be London’s Hyde Park, where thousands will gather for what, for the first time, could legitimately be the last time. There are no further dates lined up, and Mick Jagger has said that the Stones will be going on a hiatus after this last gig.
So is this it?
As a die-hard Stones fans, part of me wants to see where the band can go next. More live shows? A new studio album, perhaps with Mick Taylor back in the fold following his return to the band for the 50…and Counting tour? Or perhaps, the band, who were playing at the peak of their powers (I saw them, I can vouch), should tap out before it becomes embarrassing. Mick Jagger is hours away from turning 70 – can he be a viable rock and roll frontman at that age?
The Rolling Stones are no longer the rebels and renegades that the film Crossfire Hurricane captures. Recently released on DVD and Blu-ray by Eagle Rock Entertainment after premiering on HBO, that band was full of youthful exuberance and a willingness to rock as if their life depended on it. In the film, narrated offscreen by the band, we see the 60s British rock scene unfold before our eyes, screaming boys and girls try to capture the Rolling Stones, by any means necessary. The band were a phenomenon before they were 25 years old (except for Bill Wyman, that is). Watching the band perform back then, you know that everything was raw and real, and that hell could break loose at any moment (which it did, of courts, at Altamont). If you have yet to see the film, watch it now. It’s a history lesson made up of solid gold songs.
Crossfire Hurricane is also the perfect juxtaposition to where the band find themselves – the longest lasting British rock band, the definition of the old guard, about to take what could be their final bow. The Stones caught a lot of flack for their ridiculous ticket prices on this tour (more than $150 for the cheap seats), but they played their worth. I didn’t read a bad review and I can’t imagine anyone went home angry. They headlined a night at Glastonbury and won over a crowd not made up of die hards.
So what do they do after tonight? Quit while on top? Or continue to go where no band has gone before? The Rolling Stones will never say.
Don’t except any good-byes. Simply expect them to be there one day, gone the next.