Mick, Keith and Co. rock the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a two-hour show.

D.J. Dyken, 27, procrastinated when it came time to buy tickets to the Thursday’s Rolling Stones show at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but finally decided last weekend that he and his father, Ken “Smurf” Dyken, needed to go.

“This could be the last time,” said D.J., of Stockbridge, quoting a Stones single from 1965. So the son ponied up $139 apiece for two standing-room tickets on the floor, and the duo stood near the end zone, happy to be on their feet, at least as long as Ken’s 54-year-old back held up.

“This is a bucket list item for me,” said D.J. who drives a truck for a glass wholesaler.

Last chances were front of mind for many in the audience of the Stones’ Atlanta show. Charlie Watts, the drummer who had never missed a show since 1962, died in August. Mick Jagger is 78 years old and recently underwent a heart valve surgery.

Many were worried, as the band approaches its 60th anniversary, that we might not get another opportunity to see the Stones again. But watching Jagger, a limber great-grandfather, skipping the width of the 200-foot stage, strutting far out into the audience on the catwalk, neither he, nor his equally advanced colleagues, seem like musicians who ever want to stop.

The capacity audience, which included many music lovers of the same vintage as the band, gave back that joy in a happy, if not hysterical fashion. While most of the crowd was on its feet all night (except for those on walkers) the encores finally prompted some hands in the air.

It was the Stones’ first tour without Charlie Watts, and the evening began with a video tribute to the storied drummer. This was followed by Keith Richards slicing open the heavens with “Street Fighting Man.”

The Stones reportedly practiced 80 songs for the No Filter tour, and they have been bringing out many deep cuts, and a new song or two. after “Let’s Spend the Night Together” the band launched into “19th Nervous Breakdown,” a song that has been largely ignored for a long time.

Caption
Mick Jagger displayed fine form (and several costume changes) during the Rolling Stones' show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Thursday. Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mick Jagger displayed fine form (and several costume changes) during the Rolling Stones' show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Thursday.
Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
Mick Jagger displayed fine form (and several costume changes) during the Rolling Stones' show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Thursday. Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Early in the show, as Jagger dedicated the evening to Watts, the crowd chanted “Charlie! Charlie!” and the band launched into “Tumbling Dice,” lifted by pumping baritone and tenor sax from Karl Denson and Tim Ries.

In Watts’ place on the drum throne was long-time Stones collaborator Steve Jordan.

Guitarist Keith Richards, who wore a face of worried concentration during the first half-dozen tunes, began to smile broadly during “Shattered.” Jagger introduced “Living in a Ghost Town” as their “lockdown” song, composed during the COVID-19 hiatus that interrupted the No Filter tour, which began more than four years ago.

The audience has the opportunity to pick a tune at each show of this tour from among a few choices (at Vote.RollingStones.com) and Thursday’s pick was “She’s a Rainbow,” another rarity.

“Do you know this one, Chuck?” asked Jagger playfully, inviting Macon keyboardist Chuck Leavell, a regular member of the band for 40 years, to play the minuet-ish opening bars.

Matt Clifford, who also doubles on keyboards, unrolled an assured French horn solo to introduce “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

The band arrived in Atlanta a few days early, and Jagger took the opportunity to post photos on Twitter of himself at a handful of Atlanta landmarks, including the Jackson Street bridge, Piedmont Park, the High Museum of Art and the venerable strip club the Clermont Lounge.

Ever the ingratiating emcee, Jagger brought cheers Thursday when he mentioned the “world champion Braves,” and spoke of enjoying the sights of Atlanta, claiming unconvincingly to have experienced the “haute cuisine” of the Waffle House. (Jagger and company did in fact enjoy a meal at the very haute Miller Union.)

The Stones came on stage after a short opening set by Georgia favorites, the Zac Brown Band, which unleashed a rapid-fire cover of the Charlie Daniel’s chestnut “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

Brown sang the radio hits “Toes” and “Chicken Fried” and set his guitar aside for an unlikely, ambitious (and mostly successful) foray into “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

ExploreChuck Leavell, Georgia’s own Rolling Stone, at the Benz, with the Lads
Caption
The Zac Brown Band opened for the Rolling Stones Thursday night at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Zac Brown Band opened for the Rolling Stones Thursday night at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
The Zac Brown Band opened for the Rolling Stones Thursday night at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Speaking of vocalists, during the Stones’ set Keith Richards took over the microphone for two songs, including his tune “Connection,” from his solo work, a song the Stones haven’t played for 15 years.

Each member of the 10-person ensemble enjoyed a turn in the spotlight, including bassist Darryl Jones, whose solo during the disco-ish “Miss You” was punctuated by a chest-bump from Jagger.

There were no inflatables deployed Thursday, which production manager Dale Skjerseth called a “back to basics” operation, but the lighting design and the four 60-foot-tall video screens were employed with great effect. The band expertly navigated at least four tempo changes in “Midnight Rambler,” highlighted by the explosions of the slow middle section, with eye-assaulting 60-foot red flashes.

Guitarist Ron Wood and Richards have a delightful, sometimes sloppy chemistry together, highlighted when Wood switched to a sitar-ish Danelectro for “Paint It Black.”

We finally saw hands in the air during the encores, “Jumping Jack Flash” and the roaring “Gimme Shelter,” which showcased powerful backing vocalist Sasha Allen, hand-in-hand with Jagger on the runway. The obligatory “Satisfaction” ended the evening in a burst of fireworks.

About the Author

ajc.com

Editors' Picks