Even as rain soaked into his vintage “Steel Wheels” shirt as he walked into TCF Bank Stadium early Wednesday night — after spending an hour in traffic and $300 on a ticket — Rolling Stones ultra-fan John Sorenson said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The Metrodome was the worst place to see shows, especially for the best band ever,” said Sorenson, 48, of Minneapolis, recalling the demolished stadium where the Stones played three times between 1989 and 1997. “I’ll take a little rain if it means getting to see them here.”
The Stones are just the start-up gig for the busiest year ever for outdoor stadium concerts in the Twin Cities, as our recent spate of stadium construction seems to be catching the eye of concert promoters.
When the Stones rolled into town, the world’s biggest touring band finally landed in an outdoor Twin Cities venue that matched their grandeur. It only took 52 years of Minnesota Stones shows.
“You’re looking good all you Minne … Minneapolitans?” singer Mick Jagger boomed with a smirk after the opening one-two punch of “Jumping Jack Flash” and “It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll.”
Even with Wednesday’s sporadic rain before the Stones set, most fans seemed to like it that the band touched down at the Gophers’ six-year-new football palace.
“This is way better,” said Matt Levitt, 39, of St. Louis Park, who also attended one of the Stones’ Dome shows as a teenager in 1994 with his mother, Sharon Levitt. “Her generation still wants to see big rock shows like this, and so does mine.”
Four more major shows and a few smaller stadium gigs are on tap this summer, including two more at “The Bank.”
That’s a sharp contrast to a decade ago, when the Stones last performed in town, indoors at Xcel Energy Center. There wasn’t any local outdoor venue in 2005 that could hold them, and the Metrodome had long since been ditched as a music venue.
“The Dome just had horrible acoustics and felt dank, cramped and sweaty,” remembered John Jansen, an advertising copywriter in Minneapolis.
Jansen’s wife couldn’t attend the 1994 Metrodome gig because of complications in her pregnancy. Fittingly, Jansen attended Wednesday’s concert with the daughter who was born soon thereafter, Lauren — middle name: Angela, after the Stones song “Angie.” “Just having a breeze and being out in the open adds energy to the show,” Jansen said.
The Stones even had options among local stadiums for their 2015 Zip Code Tour: The Glimmer Twins were also courted by the Minnesota Twins to play Target Field (scheduling was a factor).
Many local rock fans rekindled their love for stadium rock shows at the Twins ballpark last summer, thanks to Paul McCartney’s home run of a show. This summer, Target Field is welcoming back country yahoo Kenny Chesney for two nearly sold-out concerts with Jason Aldean, July 18-19.
TCF Bank Stadium has two more major shows to host: a country twofer featuring Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line on June 20 and British boy wonders One Direction on July 26. The prior five years at “The Bank” saw only two shows this size, U2 in 2012 and Imagine Dragons in 2014.
And there’s more: The St. Paul Saints’ new CHS Field will get its tryout as a music venue June 27 with a free show by New Orleans legend Dr. John during the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Even the National Sports Center in Blaine is getting a big gig, this weekend’s Joyful Noise Christian music festival, expected to draw about 20,000.
“It’s great to see so many new faces,” Pam Wheelock, University of Minnesota’s vice president of services beamed as the show got underway. More summers like this one would be welcomed by the university, she suggested.
“We’re extremely pleased to be a gathering place for both sports fans and music lovers.”
No one works a stadium like the Stones, though. The band’s giant stage setup with a long runway stretched out to midfield. The ever-spry Jagger ran out to the end during “Tumbling Dice” and kept returning.
With another sly smile, Jagger acted like he forgot the mascot for the hosting team later in the show: “You guys are the stripe-y furry ones that begin with a ‘B,’ right?” (Wisconsin Badger fans got the shout-out but not the tour; so we win.)
Rolling around town
Jagger got to know his surroundings well before the show, though. He browsed Laurie Booksellers on Tuesday and then toured the Minneapolis Institute of Arts with drummer Charlie Watts, who later that night celebrated his 74th birthday by joining some of the Stones’ auxiliary band members on stage at the Dakota Jazz Club. Guitarist Ronnie Wood also took in “Juno and the Paycock” at the Guthrie Theater.
Wednesday’s T-shirts ($40) and other merchandise showed a special Minnesota touch, too. One had the band’s iconic tongue logo with gopher teeth and maroon-and-gold coloring. Another had a loon with the tongue emblazoned across its back.
The multigenerational aspect of the concert is what really hit home. With 50,000-some tickets available this time instead of 19,000 for the prior arena stops, more tickets were available for fans to bring their sons and daughters — or moms and dads.
Another family act among the throngs of fans, siblings Aaron Caswell and Megan Caswell and their mom Valerie Biggart — the most die-hard of the bunch — have attended several Stones shows together in multiple cities, including the “Steel Wheels” stop at the Metrodome.
They didn’t have any mixed emotions about finally seeing them outdoors in their hometown.
“It’s summer in Minnesota, you should be outside, even if there’s a little rain,” said Aaron Caswell, 44, of St. Paul.
As for whether or not Jagger and his aging bandmates minded the Minnesota “summer” weather, Caswell applauded the resiliency that has kept the Stones together for five decades.
“They’re tough, and they’re from England. They’re used to the rain.”