To be immoral is to be a rolling stone. Continue on the road, going around, on an eternal tour. That is what it consists of: being a permanent movement. Memory activated. There are those who think that you can stay alive thanks to economizing: sitting in a chair with assisted breathing. The syrup recipe for eternity was not that. Mick Jagger knows it, Keith Richards knows it, and so does Ron Wood. Even Charlie Watts, who has left, but he is the first to appear at the party of screens and rock, he knew it. If you move — a thousand tours contemplate us — you don’t finish.
Thus began the penultimate rolling circus of their majesties The Rolling Stones. With gigantic digital tribute, living, for the jazz drummer who made rock greater. Charlie’s gone to certify that the rest of the troupe (let’s not forget Brion Gysin and his Tangerine years) is still alive, kicking, and engaging.
The traveling rock begins its march in Madrid. Where else? This is the most fertile ground for lovers of live and mass concerts. Enthusiasm in abundance. There is no equal place in all of Europe. Not in the world world. The Stones know it, after the downpour at the Calderón, after the prologue concerts to ’92… and always. They have already toured —and I with them— the three stadiums in Madrid. Calderon, Bernabeu and Wanda. Megaelectric coliseums, where rock takes over the souls in suspense. If you start successfully, the advertising of the tour is already free. Madrid guarantees it.
Reminded of Charlie Watts, Madrid was put on his lips by Mick Jagger, who has walked with his family through the Retiro Park with the Fallen Angel (a nod to his satanic…), for flamenco (with fusion stoneada) and before the Guernica (as iconic as his tongue). Gone is pre-92 Barcelona, when in 1990 they caressed the Coby de Mariscal, were photographed with Maragall (also with Felipe in Moncloa) and we exclusively recorded his tour at the Olympic stadium Steel Wheels. I had the pleasure and the great illusion of working with them, and accompanying Gavin Taylor in the realization of the concert; while the rock thundered, silence reigned in the mobile unit and he did the image mixes with the smoothness of a master at the keyboard.
A macroconcert from within
In that production I learned that a tour that summons 50 or 60 thousand faithful every night in 15 cities in a row nothing is improvised. There were three sets planned in three different locations. Scaffold workers, sound and lighting technicians. And masters of digital design, staging and costumes (who later became Jagger’s partner, L’Wren Scott, who died in 2014, took care of her clothes). Project glamour, super bright colors for the big sets. Form, tone and historical references. Changes of scene and changes of look… Nothing is improvised. All for the eyes of the thousands of attendees.
Mick Jagger goes out on a gigantic stage that instead of crushing him allows him to show off. He wears red and black. Like a galactic bullfighter. His jacket already captures the attention of the crowd, shiny mobile in hand. Then will come his winged shirt with psychedelic motifs. Later, an all-black profile, the dancer in tights, swaying to…exhaustion? No, Mick never gets tired even at eighty years old (oops, the sin of counting age!). That little dot on the stage never goes out of sight. He always gets noticed. Or that’s what the stage directors (I remember the great doctor in dramaturgy from New York University), the lighting and graphic designer or the costume designer have to achieve. There are no visual glitches. They always get the effect.
There’s less artifice in this last—for now—high-volume, triple-screen scenario. So much has been gained in the definition of the projected digital image that, with its graphic design dressing, it has become the triumphant recipe. Each live song must be fed by a video clip in parallel. The motifs vary: a black and white New York, the streets of Chelsea, the girl with pink lips, texts, colored lines… fantasies of the digital age at the service of rock. There are fewer fireworks —which in times even opened the show as a big surprise—, fewer inflatable elements or moving fabrics on stage. Follow, yes, the great catwalk. For which, in a magical moment, Mick and the two Stones of the moment walk high in the audience, to show that they are as flesh and blood as they are immortal. See them, feel them, dream them… again.
grandparents in the stands
The Stones always offer the same thing and they even cover it. Now with a more melodic cadence, a little softer… so that Jagger can hold on? He continues to wiggle like no one else, and his voice holds up the two-hour show very well. They get their songs to put the dance engine to the top without doing easy pop or reggaeton. Real rock to unbalance any hip.
They stick their long tongue out at you, and you taste it. Despite the age. There is a legion of grandparents in the stands. some groupers voyeur of nostalgia, enduring the armchair and the desire to go to the bathroom. Others willing to give everything under gray hair. There are grandparents and grandchildren. This circus of the Sones is transversal, timeless and galactic. Theme by theme the public warms up, and communion takes place, the expected delivery. The legion of zombies has entered a trance, and it no longer leaves it. Until the end, until the encores, until the meter back.
Infected with rock fever by the great priests of invention, they have already proven that eternity was this. A state of musical happiness dressed in bright colors, dancing under the galactic ring that opens the Wanda to the warm night of Madrid. The same as always and always different. Like life itself that repeats itself and never ends. We have come to verify (people of little faith! ) that the Sones were alive. Wow if they are. And also unstoppable. Mick, unable to sit still. Keith plucks like nobody else. Ronnie continues with his spectral face glued to a guitar. He turned 75 that night and had a happy birthday in Madrid, performed by a choir of forty-five thousand voices, while a confetti cake taller than the stadium rose to the sky. Plus the great troupe of saxophones, keyboards, choirs and everything necessary to elevate the music to a state of great happiness.
the same and more
When I worked for the band in the ’90s, the show opened with the start me up (“I’ll never stop if you start me up…”, says the song), and from the first minute the masses began to accelerate. Now the beat goes in crescendo up to the classics of the group. The Honky Tonk Woman, Jumpin’ Jack Flash (“I was born in a cross-fire hurricane…”) and the rest of his mythical themes. The night is dyed red, finally entering the promised hell, aromas of plants warm the air of the Metropolitan, the legs are no longer still, everything turns. Stuck in the infernal mess of the best rock, the most classic and the hottest. The medium has achieved his purpose. The recipe is served. The same as always, and something more. The mass of faithful enters a trance. And he wants more and more. He wants to share eternity and Mick grants them the long-awaited dream.
If one day the Rolling Stones die -which is still a mere rhetorical argument-, do not fear: Mick Jagger (78 years old) will continue dancing on his grave. And the rock guests will come back to see it. There is no end.