“Start Me Up,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Sympathy for the Devil” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” are givens. “Honky Tonk Women,” “Gimme Shelter,” “It’s Only Rock ’N Roll (But I Like It),” “Brown Sugar” and “Midnight Rambler” have also all been live staples for decades.
Beyond those predictable picks, though, the idea that Rolling Stones concerts are entirely by-the-numbers at this point is as untrue as the legend about Keith Richards getting blood transfusions to beat heroin.
Ol’ Keef kicked his habit the hard way, just as the Stones don’t appear to be taking the easy route in their 52nd year on the road.
The band started up the 15-city Zip Code Tour last weekend in San Diego, and from the looks of the set list, it’s a fairly interesting tour. Several cuts off “Sticky Fingers,” the group’s third-best album, are in the mix timed to the record’s expanded reissue last month — though not all 10 cuts, which the band played in a surprise Los Angeles warm-up gig.
In preparation for Wednesday’s concert at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis — only the third stop on the outing — here’s a rundown of the less obvious or more interesting songs the Stones played on opening night that are likely to be repeated here.
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1969): Not a set list surprise, of course, but this baby boomer anthem off “Let It Bleed” has a local legend attached to it. It was allegedly inspired by the Stones’ 1964 gig at the Danceland Ballroom in Excelsior, where a fan named Jimmy (“Mister Jimmy?”) Hutmaker said he complained to Mick Jagger that he didn’t get the Cherry Coke he ordered at Bacon’s Drugstore. One more local hook this time: Minneapolis-based choral group VocalEssence has been recruited to help sing it.
“Moonlight Mile” (1971): Not played live for decades, Jagger wrote the somber, crescendoing “Sticky Fingers” deep cut on tour in 1970. “The feeling I had at that moment was how difficult it was to be touring and how I wasn’t looking forward to going out,” he told the Wall Street Journal before this tour. The song turned out good enough not to be hated by every musician who tours without a Learjet.
“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” (1971): Another “Sticky Fingers” cut, this snaky original is one of the quintessential Richards/Mick Taylor guitar masterpieces. It’s also a fitting tribute to recently deceased saxophonist Bobby Keys, whose landmark solo is being handled by jam-band hero Karl Denson on this tour.
“Bitch” (1971): Any classic-rock radio listeners will recognize the wicked opening riff, but the “Fingers” Side 2 opener — another horn player workout — hasn’t been quite as much of a staple in concert. San Diego opener Gary Clark Jr. joined in during that show, but Grace Potter, our warm-up act, may be less keen on it.
“Sway,” “Wild Horses,” “You Gotta Move,” “I Got the Blues,” “Sister Morphine,” “Dead Flowers” (1971): Other “Fingers” tracks the band rehearsed for the tour. “Wild Horses” could be a prime pick with Potter, since she has frequently covered it in her concerts.
“All Down the Line” (1972): One of the best examples of Richards’ tight rhythmic interplay with drummer Charlie Watts, this bluesy nugget off the band’s grand opus “Exile on Main Street” is a thrilling barnburner in concert. Too bad “Exile”-era guitarist Taylor isn’t back out again to play his slide parts.
“Before They Make Me Run” (1978): Richards wrote this rambling howler for the “Some Girls” album in the aftermath of his arrest in Toronto for heroin possession. He didn’t sing it live with the Stones until 1989, though. The line “It’s goodbye to another good friend,” is allegedly a nod to his late drug buddy Gram Parsons.
“Slipping Away” (1989): Another one Richards sings, the melancholy ballad was the final track on the last passably decent Stones album, “Steel Wheels.” It became more of a live staple after the band featured it on the 1995 unplugged disc “Stripped.”
“Doom and Gloom” (2012): The one “new” song this time out was a Don Was-produced, paranoid rocker issued as a single to promote the 50th-anniversary compilation album “GRRR!” It was doomed on the charts and radio, but its heavy groove and topical lyrics could add a fresh spark in concert.