Same old band, new stadium.
The Rolling Stones played the godforsaken Metrodome three times, Target Center, Xcel Energy Center, the old St. Paul Civic Center (also three times) and Met Center — and even the long-gone Danceland at the defunct Excelsior Amusement Park way back when they released their first U.S. album in 1964.
On June 3, the world’s oldest, richest and greatest rock ’n’ roll band will rock TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota — the boys’ first local stadium gig since 1997.
Here is everything you wanted to ask about the Stones in their 53rd year.
Why should we still care?
Because they are still the best rock ’n’ roll band in the world — at least in concert. Honestly. On a good night. Of course, you could say that about several other bands. But the Stones grabbed the title first and have done enough to keep it.
Superior musicianship, a surfeit of great songs, a rock-as-showbiz attitude, eternal cool and the frontman who defined what it is to be a rock star on and offstage — and never lost it. When I saw Mick Jagger in concert two years at Chicago’s United Center, he was as exciting as he was the first time I saw him at Met Center in 1972.
Weren’t you cynical about the Stones not too long ago?
Yes, indeed. I get cynical about classic acts that don’t bother to make new albums but can’t resist the reunion paychecks — Crosby, Stills & Nostalgia, the Grateful Done and the Two, who used to be the Who but only two of them are still alive. When was the last time those groups made a recording of new music?
On the other hand, it’s easy to admire Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Prince because they challenge themselves — and their fans — by creating music even if it doesn’t often measure up to their Hall of Fame standards. However, one could argue that they are solo artists who work with bands rather than members of a band.
Although the Stones released “A Bigger Bang” the last time they performed in the Twin Cities in 2005, they haven’t delivered a significant album since 1994’s “Voodoo Lounge.” (Or was it 1989’s “Steel Wheels”? Debate amongst yourselves.) Two years ago, they introduced two new songs from another new greatest-hits package, and they played both new numbers regularly on tour. Frankly, I lose the skepticism as soon as I hear Keith Richards’ guitar cranking at full volume and the goose bumps kick in.
Is this the last time we’ll see the Stones in concert in the Twin Cities?
I stopped asking and answering that question a few tours ago. A Star Tribune reader recently reminded me what a fool — or sarcastic young man — I was in 1975 (my first year on staff) when I suggested that Tour of Americas was possibly the Stones’ final tour. Yeah, right.
As long as Jagger, Richards and Charlie Watts are willing and able to tour, they will. Richards, 71, lives for the road; Watts, 74, for the music, and Jagger, 71, for the money and adoration. Ronnie Wood, the kid in the Stones at age 68, is there for the camaraderie.
Plus we’ve got two new stadiums, Target Field and the Vikings’ palace under construction, in which the band hasn’t performed yet.
The Stones leave no stadium unturned.
How does Jagger still do it? He’ll turn 72 next month.
Good genes, a great hairstylist and an even better personal trainer. Sir Mick told Rolling Stone in April that he never stops training between tours and that he picks up the pace about three months before the tour starts. He pointed out that he’s not training for a marathon but for starting and stopping. Can’t believe he hasn’t released a workout DVD.
Do you think retirement ever crosses his mind?
“Nah, not in the moment,” he said in the Rolling Stone interview. “I’m thinking about what the next tour is. I’m not thinking about retirement. I’m planning the next set of tours, so the answer is really, ‘No, not really.’ ”
Saxophonist Bobby Keys died last December of cirrhosis of the liver. Who’s the new sax man?
Karl Denson, who is equal parts jazz and jam-band. Rocker Lenny Kravitz recommended him to Jagger. Denson, 58, leads his own group, Tiny Universe, and is also a member of Slightly Stoopid and the Greyboy Allstars.
In a recent interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Denson admitted that Jagger didn’t know who he was when Kravitz suggested him. However, Denson knew the Stones; his Tiny Universe used to play the Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” album in its entirety in concert.
The saxophonist joined the Stones for nine shows last fall and then was invited back for the current 15-city Zip Code Tour.
What happened to the Stones performing the 1971 album “Sticky Fingers” in its entirety on this tour?
The Stones rehearsed the album and played all of the songs — though not in the order in which they appear on the album — at a warm-up gig last month at the 1,200-capacity Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles.
“It’s a really great album,” Jagger told Rolling Stone before the tour started, “but it’s got a lot of slow songs. I’m just worried that’s a bit problematic for a stadium.”
Where is Mick Taylor? He toured with the band a couple of years ago.
Taylor, a band member in the influential years 1969-74, kicked butt on the 50 and Counting Tour in 2012-13, but the Stones invited him onstage for a mere three songs per show. He didn’t look like a rock star, but he sure sounded terrific — more inspired than Richards on that night in Chicago. However, he wasn’t asked to participate in the current tour.
What happened to bassist Bill Wyman?
The Stones’ original bassist retired in 1993. Since 1997, he has played with his own group, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, with a revolving cast of old British rockers including Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, Georgie Fame and Andrew Fairweather Low. Now 78, Wyman sat in with the Stones on two songs in 2012 at their London concert, but he declined to play any more with them.
He was replaced in 1993 by Darryl Jones, who played his first touring gig with jazz giant Miles Davis. The Chicago-reared bassist, 53, also has worked with Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Sting and others. Jones is considered a sideman, not a full member of the Rolling Stones.
Should we arrive early enough to see opening act Grace Potter?
Matchbox 20 notwithstanding, the Stones have been known to pick opening acts that matter to them. In 2005, it was blues guitar hero Buddy Guy; in ’81, it was Minnesota blues kings Lamont Cranston and a new retro rockabilly trio, the Stray Cats.
On this tour, the Stones seem to have a different opener every night — from highly touted blues-rock guitarist Gary Clark Jr. to top-of-the-pops hitmaker Ed Sheeran to R&B upstarts St. Paul & the Broken Bones. Potter, who is from Vermont, started as a jam-band granola girl, but she’s gracefully segued into a glam rocker with a big voice. Last year, she rocked the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis, and the previous summer she opened for country stadium king Kenny Chesney at Target Field.