The Rolling Stones and me
Rick Madonik, Staff Photographer - @Rmadonik
The Rolling Stones, from left, Ron Wood, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. On bass, is tour bassist Darryl Jones.
Ok, I have to declare, off the top, I have a bias.
The Rolling Stones, circa 1975, was the first concert I ever went to. Maple Leaf Gardens in the 70s, for a concert, well you could easily be corrupted by the contact "high" of the cloud of smoke. With centre ice floor seating, it was a wide, almost rude, awakening for a 15-year-old who was still a virgin to certain corruptions.
There were a lot of freaky people walking through the cloud which formed at ice level and ascended to the banners hanging in the rafters. There was a dude in a styrofoam space helmet. It was a cross-over time as the Hippie dream would soon be smack up against the antics of the disco era. (Thankfully, Punk proved the antithesis to the dance craze and counterbalanced the white suits of Saturday Night Fever.)
Sadly, the excitement was eclipsed a bit because after the 2nd clang of the cowbell (the beginning to Honky Tonk Woman) I could hear nothing for the next three songs as the screaming voices drowned out a mega band. Soon, my friends and I found ourselves standing on our seats as the mass of people on the floor crushed the stage because being a few feet closer to living, strutting, rock gods, was what you did - apparently.
The rest of the concert proved to be one of the best experiences of my life. The Stones were one of my early influences with Sympathy for the Devil being just about my favorite song. I was a Stones junkie, through and through.
Then, Some Girls was released. It was the LP that broke my back, and actually took me over 10 years before I really appreciated any one song on that album. In all the years since, I've never returned to see them despite many chances. It was as if I wanted to preserve that first experience - my concert cherry.
Last night, that changed. As the band celebrates its 50 years of making music together, and I guess surviving mostly intact considering the sad fate of many of their early contemporaries, I found myself assigned to shoot the show.
Although they sounded pretty good for the three songs I got to hear, I could not get over the visuals of the aged men, all grandfathers (any great grandfathers in the crowd?), living in the past. Maybe its because I'm a visual person, but things, to me, looked out of whack up there as Mick strutted about - a mere shadow of his younger self (but still trying to employ many of the same moves). Charlie looked bored as he stoicly ran thru the set list. Wood and Richards seem comfortable, and familiar just strumming behind Mick's gyrations and over exaggerations.
Hmmmmm, maybe 50 years doesn't change much. Except to add to the skin wrinkle coefficent.
Mick Jagger, dances as he performs at the Air Canada Centre, as The Rolling Stones tour.
Ronnie Wood and Keith Richard sharing a moment as they work behind frontman Mick Jagger.
The Rolling Stones, from left, Ron Wood, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger.
While Mick dances, Keith plays a riff.
The band struts under full lights.
The Rolling Stones perform within a set of oversized lips, part of the bands longtime logo.
Keith Richards sticks to what he knows best, playing his old Fender guitar.
Ron Woods plays an electric Sitar.
Charlie Watts works as cooly as ever behind his simple drum kit.