Music News

The Rolling Stones Live: A Content Analysis

Performers at concert: The Rolling Stones, with Bryan Adams.
Date of concert: February 2, 1999.
Location of concert: McNichols Arena, Denver, Colorado.

Description of pre-concert hoopla: Less than anticipated. The weeks of relentless hype that usually precede Stones shows is largely drowned out by the weeks of relentless hype that's focused on the NFL champion Denver Broncos. (The Channel 4 story about Les Shapiro getting his Super Bowl press credentials was fascinating.) But that doesn't stop the Denver Rocky Mountain News (apparently renamed to avoid confusion with the Bayonne, New Jersey, Rocky Mountain News) from running a review of a Stones gig in Oakland the day before critiquing the local version of the very same show. Guess they needed to fill extra space now that the eight-part series on Mike Shanahan's genius is over.

Degree of age-oriented ridicule inherent in pre-concert hoopla: High.
Example of age-oriented ridicule in pre-concert hoopla: On show day, KOA-AM/850's Steve Kelly and Ed Greene play a clip of lead Stone Mick Jagger singing, "What a drag it is getting old," then joke that the band's tour is being sponsored by Metamucil.

Number of people who would describe Steve Kelly and Ed Greene as "young, hip arbiters of taste": Zero.

The top three reasons the Rolling Stones willingly subject themselves to the ridicule of people like Steve Kelly and Ed Greene: 1. Tremendous profits. 2. Ego gratification. 3. Tremendous profits.

Description of ticket prices for the Rolling Stones' Denver appearance: The highest ever for a rock concert in the city. Unscalped: $50-$250. Scalped: Got a calculator?

Most recent excuse for the show's high ticket prices: Mick Jagger's marital status--or lack thereof. When Jerry Hall, the Texas-born model who wed Jagger in 1992, recently filed for divorce (and asked for a reported $50-$100 million settlement), Jagger responded by claiming that the marriage wasn't legal. No one has yet revealed whether he had a straight face when doing so.

Description of Mick Jagger that appeared in a recent statement by Jerry Hall: According to NY Rock, Hall called the father of her four children a "lying, cheating, no-good slimeball."

A partial list, courtesy of NY Rock and the New York Daily News, of the women with whom Mick Jagger has been publicly linked since beginning his relationship with Jerry Hall in 1977: 1979--beer baroness Catherine Guinness; 1980--heiress Natasha Fraser, age seventeen; 1982--the late Duke of Windsor's goddaughter, eighteen-year-old Cornelia Guest. 1992-present--Italian model Carla Bruni. 1995--Hungarian porn actress Orsolya Dessy. 1996--model Nicole Kruk, who described Jagger as "skinny and really old," plus model Jana Rajlich and actress Uma Thurman. 1998--sex therapist Natasha Terry. 1999--Brazilian lingerie model Luciana Gimenez Morad, who claims to be pregnant by Jagger.

Possible reason Mick Jagger is performing in Denver on February 2 despite flu symptoms that caused him to cancel a concert the previous week: If he stayed home in bed, he'd be too easy for subpoena servers to find.

Description of the sounds being broadcast over the public-address system outside McNichols Arena fifty minutes before showtime: Muzak with a capital Kenny G.

Description of the sounds being broadcast over the public-address system inside McNichols Arena forty minutes before showtime: Electronica.

Number of people inside McNichols Arena who seem to be enjoying the electronica being broadcast over the public-address system: Zero.

First artist featured on the public-address system whom members of the audience seem to recognize: Buddy Holly.

Description of the stage: A loading-dock design accented by yellow and black stripes intended to echo the concert's theme--No Security, named for a concert CD readily available for purchase. Overhead hangs a giant video screen alternately featuring the Stones' tongue-and-lips trademark and the logos of VH1, a cable network for people who are suspicious of any music less than twenty years old, and Tommy Hilfiger, manufacturer of youthful clothing no one in the audience is wearing. Money well-spent, Tommy?

Three random character sketches of audience members: 1. A middle-aged woman wearing a suit made of snakeskin. (She doesn't take the outfit off when she gets home; she sheds it.) 2. Two middle-aged guys--one wearing a leather shirt, the other wearing leather pants. Together they make one well-dressed leather man. 3. A fifty-something woman wearing a tight-fitting black-sequined jacket with matching black-sequined headband designed to catch the eyes of the boys in the band. Odds that she'll get lucky with one of them: None and none.

First words I overhear from the T-shirted, tattooed, obviously drunk man sitting behind me: "Do they sell booze here?"

First announcement I see on the message board on the opposite side of the arena from my seat: "STAY WHERE YOU ARE IF THE POWER FAILS."

Seats filled when Bryan Adams begins his set: Approximately 30 percent.
Number of audience members who seem genuinely excited to hear the first notes of "Summer of '69," one of Bryan Adams's biggest hits: You can count them on one hand.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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