A rock concert is about far more than the music, though heavens, there was plenty of that in almost 2 and 1/2 hours’ concert with The Rolling Stones here in Montevideo last week. Mike and I were into rock music way back when the Stones began, and though I have often been distracted by other music and groups, he has stayed a strong fan. The concert gave me a new interest in and respect for this amazing group’s music, including the underlying R&B rhythms that Elton John said last week are the roots they should return to and focus on – and I agree, being a bit of an R&B fan myself. And most of the concert consisted of big RS hits, which is what fans of any performing artist want to experience live, don’t they? How difficult it must be to bring new stuff forward in the face of such demand, to find a balance in a concert playlist. With the aid of massive speakers and all the gear, the music was thrillingly loud, but not uncomfortably so. We felt at times the boys’ aging vocal chords were not quite equal to the task, perhaps, but the they have been heavily used and possibly abused since the early 60’s, and that’s a remarkable length of time in the history of rock bands.
And, awesome as the sound was, the visual aspects were thrilling, too. I don’t know how high the constructed stage in the Centenario Stadium was, but maybe 5 stories above ground level. Three massive screens enabled people to see the performers as if up close from way back in the stadium, as we were,and able to see every wrinkle and grey hair. Apart from drummer Charlie W in a white tshirt, the other Stones wore several changes of very theatrical bright coloured shirts, often satin, with added sparkle and metallic glitter, but the support musicians were all dressed in muted or drab colours, so that was interesting – we had no doubt about who was starring and where on stage each was. Mick J never stood still for one minute in the almost 2 1/2 hour performance, leaping and dancing all over the stage including the long catwalk out into the audience, just like someone half his age. The others were less dramatic but moving about constantly, and by the end of the show they all looked rather knackered, and no wonder- they had performed generously and it was a very hot night.
But what we were able to see was far far more than just up close views of the Rolling Stones doing their thing on stage. All round us the massive audience surged and heaved in time with the music. The stadium rocked with a sea of heads and arms pulsating totally in sync with changing lights and lots of animated graphics around the screens, all wonderfully coordinated with what was happening with the artists. The most stunning example of all this was towards the end with Sympathy For The Devil which you can view here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MA1njkX48M filmed by someone with a far steadier hand than mine, better sound, too. I’m sure this oldie but goodie has never been so completely enthralling.
While The Stones were here they spent several hours the day and evening before the concert meeting up with musicians in the black quarter of the old city, taking the opportunity to experience some of the local music – candombe or drumming. The papers wrote it all up with pics of the private home and people they visited – so perhaps there will be some new influence in their music in future.