I’m sure among these missives I’ve related the story of how shortly after we started dating m’lady got shut out of a Rolling Stones concert just down the street from my house and I kind of sort of got the heat for it.
A synopsis: My room-mate had promised m’lady his girlfriend’s ticket, his girlfriend changed her mind at the last minute (or had no idea that her ticket had been promised away in the first place, depending on how the story was told), and this all came to light just as my entire pre-party was getting ready to walk out of my backyard and head to the show. M’lady was understandably very upset, the show was epic, I pretended that it wasn’t all that epic, and m’lady swore that I owed her a Rolling Stones concert.
What else could I do but agree?
But The Rolling Stones don’t go on tour every day. As a matter of fact it was a full seven years before they toured again, when the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band announced eight shows in four cities: London, Paris, New York City, and Newark, New Jersey.
And so it was on December 8th, 2012 that I fulfilled my promise and took m’lady to see The Rolling Stones at the brand-spanking new Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York. It was their 50 & Counting tour* and we were more than excited.
This was the tour when The Stones really tested the limits of ticket pricing, a test they passed with flying colours. If the $250+ price on my ticket gives you pause, consider that this was among the cheapest seats in the house**. Tickets up front went for over eight hundred dollars each. Face.
We defrayed some of these costs by staying with m’lady’s cousin, who lived with his wife and their son in a great loft apartment in a converted toy warehouse smack-dab in the middle of what had become one of the hippest neighbourhoods in Brooklyn.
It was just a short walk to the arena, where we found official merch stands set up outside the venue; perhaps the first time I’ve seen that. Though the poster featured mostly just the standard Stones tongue I really wanted one, but not for $100. Or $85, or whatever it was. All the merch was super-expensive, like way more than usual, and no wonder. I could just hear it, “Well, I paid $800 for my ticket, there’s no way I’m not getting a t-shirt.” And at $65 (or whatever it was) the price of a t-shirt would be just a drop in the bucket compared to the overall expense of taking in the show. Clever marketing, that.
Brilliant marketing, really. I was convinced that Mick Jagger was trying to stage the world’s first billion dollar tour. Heck, I bought a shirt. No way I’m gonna pay $250 for a ticket…
But for all the marketing, all the hype, all the Hollywood-style big stage bells and whistles, at the core of it all is one of the truly great bands in the history of rock music. And they are still vital, and still great. Shunning an opening act, instead The Stones invited different artists to sit in with them at each stop on the tour. At this show we were treated to two different artists that I had never heard before, Mary J. Blige, who tore it up during a run through of Gimme Shelter, and Gary Clark Jr., who sat in for a cover song that I had never heard of.
Of course there was the usual Honky Tonk Women, Tumbling Dice, Start Me Up and so many more, and they even had a local children’s choir join them for You Can’t Always Get What You Want in the encore, which also included Jumpin’ Jack Flash and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction***
Sounds like a pretty great concert huh? It was. And don’t say I don’t keep my promises.
*The band would go on to add twenty-two more dates to the 50 & Counting tour and m’lady and I saw them three more times over the next six months or so. We both agree that I have now unquestionably made up for whatever hand I had in the fiasco that kept her out of that 2005 concert.
**We were lucky enough to score the nearly-secret ultra-rare super-cheap $85 tickets for all three of the other shows we saw on this tour. It’s not like we’re millionaires or anything.
***I’ve always hated the parenthesis in that song title. Like, why?