Mick Jagger, Kiss My Ass
Or, What I Want For My $350
The traveling corporation known as The Rolling Stones (not to be confused with a similarly named musical group, last seen sometime in the late 1970s) have announced, with typical high-tech fanfare (they floated in on a blimp — very apt, once you learn the details of the tour) yet another world tour/cash grab for 2002-2003. In an attempt to ratchet up ticket frenzy (and perhaps sooth the pain of playing “the hits” for the millionth time), the shows will be split between arenas, stadiums, and clubs, sometimes all in the same city. New York, for example, can pick between Roseland Ballroom, Giants Stadium, or Madison Square Garden. Ticket information is only available for a few of the stadium shows at the moment, with two ticket prices: $90 and $350.
$350 freakin’ dollars to see pale shadows of a once great band plod through yet another listless hour or so of music? Are you daft? The tour is being presented — with a straight face — by E-Trade. Other than Enron — which probably isn’t solvent enough at the moment to pony up the fee — can you think of a more perfect entity to bankroll the latest attempt to separate boomers from their cash? Because this tour — like recent or upcoming ventures from Paul McCartney or The Eagles — is being marketed solely at the SUV driving, Roth IRA funding, white yap who wouldn’t know who Brian Jones was if he surfaced in the swimming pool of their health club. The flotsam and jetsam of modern concert going will clog the aisles, chatting away on cell phones and swilling white wine, while the only people in the room older than themselves, the band, crank up the video screens and other distractions and watch as the crowd gets all excited at “Undercover of the Night” or bounces frantically at “Miss You,” while the two dozen or so actual fans of the band stick our fingers in our ears and hope for a blistering “All Down the Line” (last attempted in say, 1972?) and wonder why we pissed away perfectly good money for something we knew going in was gonna suck.
So, what do I want for my $350? I’ve seen The Stones five or six times in my life. The two shows at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre rank in my top shows of all time, while the last (and I mean LAST), in the cavernous barn called Phillips Arena, was pathetic. The crowd didn’t give a damn, the band could have been (and may well have been, who knows?) replaced by aliens. It truly sucked. So what would make me fork out big dinero to these geriatric men? Well, it’s the age of high technology, so how about:
1: The crowd makes the set list. When you enter the arena, you get a gizmo like you do on Family Feud, and you can type in the song you wanna hear. And no canned lists of what we can pick from — for $350, you damn well better remember every song you ever recorded. And if anyone in the house actually opts to hear anything recorded after Some Girls, we find ’em and club them to death.
2: Import some of those cellular transmission blockers from Japan. Upon entering the seating area, all cell phones will cease to work. You wanna talk, go outside.
3: I want to be able to patch my mini-disc recorder into the board. The Grateful Dead allowed taping for most of their career, and for that much money, I want more than a T-shirt.
4: Output each concert, via HDTV, to a pay-per view only receivable by ticket purchasers. That way, while I’m at the show, I’ll be recording it at home on a DVD.
5: Audience-configurable clothes for the band. One of the worst aspects of a live Stones show is the horrendous outfits these guys allow themselves to be dressed in. Make them out of some sort of computer-enhanced mesh, and when Jagger prances out in a bright yellow shirt and pink pants, we just zap ’em into all black or something.
Yeah, it sounds like a lot to be asking for, but they are asking a lot of money. Probably even if all of these things were done, I’d still pass on seeing the band in any place that holds more than 1,000 people. It’s just too sad any other way. Give me a small club, one where you can still smoke at the same time you drink, and make it small enough that when I yell out for “Ventilator Blues,” the once “world’s greatest rock and roll band” would put the hammer down. That would be priceless.