Five thoughts: The Rolling Stones at T-Mobile Arena (October 22)

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones performs Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

1. Let’s get this out of the way: The Rolling Stones, with a median age of 72, have defied father time for the past two decades, at the very least. Since I’ve been alive, crowds have flocked to see the Stones assuming it might be their final tour. But following the band’s dynamic show inside T-Mobile arena on Saturday, I wouldn’t be surprised if the foursome toured well into their 90s—what’s 20 more years of strutting and shaking, anyway?

2. You’d never have known Mick Jagger was suffering from laryngitis a few days before the Vegas show … if they hadn’t canceled a Wednesday gig here. His vocals were strong and clear right out the gate for “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” bolstered on both by Keith Richards’ and Ron Wood’s iconic guitar riffs. (Richards also looked like a rock ’n’ roll superhero in a cobalt-blue shirt and red Nikes). Jagger later apologized to the sold-out crowd for the cancellation, and even got in a jab about the presidential debate, held on the same night as the scrapped show. “Was it comic or was it tragic?” he asked before jumping into “Ride ’em on Down,” the only new song in the set, from upcoming album Blue and Lonesome.

Rolling Stones at T-Mobile Arena

3. The Stones’ touring lineup has changed a bit since the last Vegas show in 2013. Longtime saxophone player Bobby Keys died, and backup singer Lisa Fischer stepped out on her own to pursue a solo career. New backup singer Sasha Allen and new saxophonist Karl Denson put a wax finish on the familiar car, with Allen’s signature moment coming during “Gimme Shelter,” when she volleyed with the vocalist before her soaring “It’s just a shot away!” originally recorded by Merry Clayton in 1969. Saturday’s show also marked the outfit’s first gig inside T-Mobile, which provided a brighter sound and more electrically charged atmosphere than recent gigs at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

4. The setlist didn’t stray far from the usual hits, though we did get the cheeky Tattoo You cut “Little T&A,” sung by Richards and peppered with the guitarist’s coy “a-ha yeahs.” “Midnight Rambler” featured lengthy, bluesy harmonica solos by Jagger—who paused only for gasps of air and to yell the lyric “Don’t do that!”—while Richards’ and Woods’ traded the jangly lead and rhythm parts.

5. “We’ve been playing these for years and years,” Jagger said after finishing ’78 disco-era hit “Miss You.” “Thank you for coming to see us, we really appreciate that.” It can be difficult, if not impossible, for a band of The Rolling Stones’ fame to actually connect with the crowd, but Jagger’s “thank you” seemed heartfelt. Repeating a trick from their 2013 gig, the Stones welcomed Green Valley High School’s Madrigal Choir for the show’s encore opener, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a noteworthy moment for this Green Valley alum. If I had one grievance during Saturday’s show, it’s that “Brown Sugar” should have been put to rest years ago. Given today’s tense political climate, that racially charged song could have been replaced with so many others (Wild Horses? Angie? She’s a Rainbow?), and the show would have been better for it. That aside, the Stones put on an impressive, 18-song, two-hour performance that seemed to surpass the expectations of many in the building. After all these years, time is amazingly still on the Stones’ side.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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